NFL Rumors: Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Wide Receiver Mike Evans "Far Apart" on New Contract

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dangerously close to losing a franchise icon. According to Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz, the Bucs and wide receiver Mike Evans are "far apart" on a contract extension, and the five-time Pro Bowler is trending towards hitting free agency.

Evans is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career, snatching 79 receptions for 1255 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns. It was the 10th straight 1000-yard season of his career, a franchise record and the longest streak to open a career in NFL history. He is unquestionably one of the greatest Bucs of all time, and he was a key piece of their 2020 Super Bowl championship.

Though this news doesn't necessarily eliminate the possibility that Evans will eventually return to the Bucs, his contract negotiation will be a tricky one. He'll be 31 years old before the start of the season, and his inflated 2023 cap number means it will cost a colossal $28.4 million to apply the franchise tag to him.

If Evans genuinely hits unrestricted free agency, he'll be one of the league's most coveted veteran players and should land a massive deal. Though it's hard to argue he's on the same level as the truly elite, All-Pro-calibre pass catchers making $25+ million per year, he's as reliable and as respected a wide receiver as there is in the league and will likely flirt that sort of money. He'd be an ideal fit on a contender that's looking to jump a level on offense and truly push for a title. 

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