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Mike Evans, Baker Mayfield reportedly could be a package deal in NFL free agency

Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans
Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have long been considered the favorites to sign quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans, keeping their star duo out of NFL free agency. However, if both players hit the open market, there now appears to be a chance of Tampa Bay losing both.

Contract negotiations between the Buccaneers and Evans have not gone well. While the All-Pro wide receiver strongly prefers to remain in Tampa Bay, the team is expected to use the franchise tag on safety Antoine Winfield Jr. As a result, it puts pressure on the team’s front office to negotiate long-term deals with Evans and Mayfield before they hit the open market.

  • Baker Mayfield stats 2023: 4,044 passing yards, 7.1 yards per attempt, 28-10 TD-INT, 64.3% completion rate, 94.6 QB rating

Related: Baker Mayfield no longer a lock to re-sign with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite both players preferring to return in 2024, the likelihood of them hitting the open market is increasing. If that happens, the 2023 Pro Bowl selections could wind up following each other to a new team.

During an appearance on SportsCenter, NFL insider Jeremy Fowler said that Fowler and Evans want to be a “package” deal and while that would preferably be with the Buccaneers, it’s far from set in stone.

“The Bucs are trying to re-sign this guy in a major way. They’ve had preliminary talks, Mike Evans wants to retire a Buccaneer but I’m told he’s also willing, at least open to, the possibility of going to the open market because he would have a huge market. The Bucs now they gotta pay him well over $20 million per year … His game has not fallen off. “

Jeremy Fowler on Mayfield, Evans
  • Mike Evans stats 2023: 79 receptions, 1,255 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns

Related: Surprise NFL team may challenge Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Baker Mayfield

The Buccaneers are “doing everything they can” to keep the quarterback-pairing together and the expectation around the NFL remains that is what will happen. However, Evans would have a robust market of suitors if he makes it into NFL free agency.

For a team with less than $40 million in cap space, retaining Evans, Mayfield and Winfield Jr. will prove extremely difficult. If it does happen, it would almost certainly mean the other top remaining Buccaneers free agents in 2024 like linebacker Lavonte David land elsewhere.

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