TAMPA ― It was only the fourth day of training camp practice, but Mike Evans was in regular-season form.
The Pro Bowl receiver looked quick Sunday getting in and out of breaks, dominated the 11-on-11 period and made a highlight-reel touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone, leaping high over a defender to take away the football.
But the reality is that this could be the last season for Evans in a Bucs uniform.
Evans, 29, is in the final season of his 5-year, $82 million contract, and so far talks have failed to produce a third deal with the team that would allow him to possibly finish his career in Tampa Bay.
“Of course, I’d love to finish my career here,” Evans said. “There’s really nothing I can do about it. I’m not going to stay home and make a big deal about it. So, I’m just out here working as hard as I can.
“That’s what I’m doing. I’m here. I’ve always loved being here, and obviously I want to stay here and I’m sure they want to keep me. But it’s a business.”
Evans already has produced more than any offensive player in team history and keeps building on his NFL record of nine consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving to start his career. He needs two more to tie Jerry Rice for the most consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons with 11.
The Bucs and Evans’ agent, Deryk Gilmore, continue to negotiate in the hopes of reaching an agreement on a new contract before the start of the regular season.
In the meantime, Evans is taking care of his business on the field. He also signed autographs for about 20 minutes after practice Sunday.
Evans is second only to DeAndre Hopkins among active players with 10,425 receiving yards. He has 81 career touchdown receptions.
What would a new contract look like? Davante Adams signed a five-year, $140 million deal with the Raiders with $65.67 million guaranteed. Adams was in the same 2014 draft class but has 788 fewer receiving yards and six more TD receptions than Evans.
On Sunday, Evans said he’s excited about the new offense under new coordinator Dave Canales.
“I feel great. We’re throwing the ball all over the field,” Evans said. “I love what Dave has got going for us. It’s hard to double-team when you’re all over them. That’s what I love. I look forward to this year.”
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