TAMPA — The Bucs officially picked up the fifth-year option Monday on Pro Bowl WR Mike Evans, and general manager Jason Licht is optimistic he can work out a long-term deal.
"I hope Mike is a Buc for life," Licht said Monday. "Today we picked up his option. That wasn't a very tough decision, and we'll take it from there. I can promise you at some point … we'll be contacting his agent to try to make an offer that will make him a Buc long term."
Evans, 23, who had 12 touchdown catches in 2016 to tie his team record he set as a rookie, is now under contract through the 2018 season.
The Bucs may have a new deal for Evans long before he gets to that 2018 contract, but it would represent a significant raise for him. He is due to make $690,000 in base salary in 2017 in the final year of his rookie contract, and he would make at least $12.2 million on his fifth-year option for 2018 — that was the value for last year's option for his position.
It's the first time the Bucs have exercised a fifth-year option since the current CBA went into place. They declined with Adrian Clayborn (2011 first round) and Doug Martin (2012) and did not have a first-round pick in 2013.
Only four other NFL teams have yet to exercise a fifth-year option: the Packers, Seahawks, Raiders and Jaguars.
High praise for Marpet's move
DT Gerald McCoy goes up against Ali Marpet in practice every day, and he's excited about the prospect of the third-year guard getting a look at center this spring.
"Just from my analysis, I think Ali is a great guard. I think he'll be a dominant, like next-level center in my personal opinion," McCoy said. "He's a small-space guy, and you get him in a small space, you're in trouble. From here to here is all a center needs, and from here to here, with how athletic he is, he's got these grippers (where) once he puts his hands on you, you're in trouble. I truly believe, and you can stamp this and quote it: I believe Ali Marpet will be a dominant — not good — dominant center."
Quote of the day
"I'm excited for Dalvin, following him in his draft process. Nineteen is our pick, and I honestly think he's more of a top-15 guy. I'm excited for him."
Bucs QB Jameis Winston on former FSU teammate Dalvin Cook
• The Bucs had all five of their exclusive-rights free agents sign tenders Monday: TE Cameron Brate, WR Adam Humphries, DB Jude Adjei-Barimah, LB Adarius Glanton and WR Freddie Martino.
• Backup QB Ryan Griffin, 27, also signed his one-year restricted free agent tender, putting him in position to be the top backup to Jameis Winston for 2017, even though he has never taken an NFL snap.
• DE Jacquies Smith hasn't signed his RFA tender yet and has until Friday to sign an offer sheet from another team. He visited the 49ers last month. The Bucs can match any offer.