The big four professional sports leagues in America have become about big business and ever-expanding multi-million dollar salaries. Pretty much gone are loyalties between players and the stars that drive their profit margin. Players are a commodity and are dealt with as such. Now and then, though, there are rare relationships that form between the front office and the fans and a star player. There have been players like that in Tampa over the years. Players that spend their entire career a Buccaneer. Players such as Mike Alstott, Derrick Brooks, Lee Roy Selmon, Ronde Barber. Because the NFL is a business sometimes, it doesn’t always work out that players that are looked at like family end up moving on late in their careers; see Warren Sapp and John Lynch. The Salary Cap can bring about situations where keeping a favored player is almost impossible.
Having said all that, let’s look at a current player that fits the mold of those beloved stars from the past. Mike Evans was one of Jason Licht’s first draft picks and is also one of his best, if not the best pick he’s ever made. Evans has done what no other receiver in NFL History has ever done. Compiling over a thousand yards receiving in each of his first eight seasons in the NFL. His Jersey and gloves are already in Canton due to that record. When the Bucs had basically not much else going for them on offense: Evans was the star receiver. When the Bucs stormed into a home team venue and took apart the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, Mike Evans was the star receiver.
I personally have never heard or read a negative thing about Mike Evans, save for a misguided fan on social media accusing him of being lazy. Hey, even Christ of Nazareth had much worse said about him in his heyday. Fans who have met the man in person are always in awe of what a great guy he is off the field, from his charitable work to the numerous restructurings of his contract to help the team with cap space. He is the kind of player that is easy to love and root for; save for Lavonte David or maybe Ryan Jensen, there is nobody on the team, currently, that even comes close to being as beloved and talented as Mike Evans.
Mike Evan’s current contract runs through next season, 2023. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024. At that time, barring any major injury, he should be sitting at ten seasons with over a thousand yards receiving since the start of his career. I will add here that even if the record is broken in 2022 — which would be unlikely with Brady back for at least one more season — it is a record that may never be broken, or at the very least, stand for many years. Regardless of differing opinions, Mike Evans has been a top 3-5 receiver every season he’s played here. Even with Chris Godwin and Julio Jones on the roster, Evans is still the top dog at a very deep position for the Bucs. If it can be accomplished, Mike Evans should be wrapped-up for the rest of his career with a much-deserved large contract extension that would see him end his career always having been a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. He’s loyal, he’s durable, and he’s still very talented. Hey One Buc, let’s get this future Ring of Honor and Hall Of Fame Inductee locked down before his contract expires. He deserves that, and so do the fans; Go Bucs!!!