The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed wide receiver Mike Evans to a five-year contract extension with $82.5 million, with $55 million injury guaranteed. The deal is set to keep Evans, 24, in Tampa Bay until 2023 and would see the receiver average $16.5 million a year, making him the second highest-paid wide receiver in the league behind the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown. Worth a maximum of just over $95 million, counting bonuses, the new contract has also set a record for the highest agreed upon sum for a wide receiver in NFL history.
Talks of a new deal between Evans and the Buccaneers had begun before the 2017 season, but intensified during the off season with Evans approaching the option year of his entry-level contract, which could have seen him become a free agent. With the young Pro-Bowler already in the franchise top three for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, securing him with a long-term contract was one of the Buccaneers’ priorities. Evans announced the new deal on Instagram, pledging to “continue to strive for greatness on the field as well as in my community.”
Since being selected out of Texas A&M with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft , Evans has tallied more than 1,000 yards every season, establishing himself as one of the league’s foremost offensive players. Last season saw him tally up 71 receptions for 1001 yards and five touchdowns in 15 appearances. This run puts him behind only A.J. Green and Randy Moss for consecutive seasons with 1000 yards or more after being drafted; Green had five and Moss had six. In 2016, Evans set his career high in receptions (96), yards gained (1,322) and touchdowns (12), earning selections to the Pro Bowl and the second-team All Pro list.
Despite Evans, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and quarterback Jameis Winston combining to lead Tampa Bay to fourth in the league in yards per game with 272.9, the Buccaneers are looking to rebound from a disappointing season that saw them post a 5-11 record and finish bottom of the NFC South.