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Who Signs First: Baker Mayfield Or Mike Evans?

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By: Matt Matera

There will be a bit of a domino effect for the Bucs on offense this offseason. This is all centered around the outcome of re-signing quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans, or better yet, if they can bring back either of these talented players.

What will be important regardless of if they are back with the Bucs is who decides to sign first. Would one of these players finding their next contract and potentially a new destination alter the other’s plans in free agency? If Baker Mayfield signs elsewhere, does that make it more difficult for the Bucs to keep Evans in Tampa Bay?

Should Evans be the one to sign first outside of the only team he’s played for in the NFL, this might push Baker Mayfield to sign in a spot that has a couple more weapons than the Bucs have after Mike Evans is gone.

Does One Signing Impact The Other?

Predicting who signs first brings a ton of different variables to the table. Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans are in two separate financial situations and chapters of their career. Let’s start with Mayfield, who had a base salary of just $4 million last season that nearly doubled after bonuses and incentives.

Baker Mayfield – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Baker Mayfield was on the brink of his career when he signed with the Bucs last offseason, but after a season of over 4,000 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, it has been salvaged. But because he was let go by the Browns and bounced around until Tampa, Mayfield never got the big pay day that other quarterbacks have.

Everyone wants to compare him to the contract that Geno Smith signed, but what if he goes for a Daniel Jones type of deal?

Heading into this offseason, there are a couple of quarterbacks available in free agency, but after Kirk Cousins, Mayfield is the best available. With that said, this is a solid quarterback draft class with the likes of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels expected to be off the board first with others such as Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix to go later.

Baker Mayfield would like there to be a bidding war for his services. Projections say Mayfield could get $30 million per season, and the more teams in the mix, the higher that price could go. What if there’s a tipping point, though? Is there a certain number that’s too rich for potential suitors that makes them opt for cheaper options like Ryan Tannehill or Gardner Minshew? Mayfield can’t let that happen, so finding the right deal at the proper time could take precedent.

Mike Evans is the cream of the crop of free agent wide receivers, especially after Tee Higgins got the franchise tag from the Bengals. While Evans has made a lot of money in his career, he’ll be 31 in August and is likely looking at the last big pay day of his career, whether fair or not. Evans had a fantastic season, with 1,255 yards and tied for the league best with 13 touchdowns.

Every year, there are great wide receivers in the draft. This season is no different, with Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze as some of the top choices, but you never know with rookies. Evans is a proven commodity and could be the one piece that certain teams need to take the next step.

Many have linked the Texans to Evans because of his love for the state of Texas, their need of a legit number one receiver to go with Tank Dell and Nico Collins and the viewpoint that the Texans are up-and-coming team with a star quarterback going into his second year. Other wide receiver-needy teams such as the Super Bowl champion Chiefs or the returning Aaron Rodgers-led Jets would also make sense. And because Evans is a proven commodity who wants to win, he can pick and choose his spots.

On a recent Pewter Report Podcast, Scott Reynolds and myself had a discussion over who we believe would sign first between Mayfield and Evans. Reynolds said it would be Evans, while I predicted that it would be Mayfield. Check out our reasoning in this video:

Jason Licht’s Comments Bode Well For Baker Mayfield And Mike Evans

If you’re reading these scenarios in which Mayfield and Evans aren’t Bucs, don’t worry too much. At the NFL Combine, Jason Licht addressed all of the rumors and speculation over each player. The biggest point Licht made was that he wants both of them back… and pretty badly. Licht couldn’t emphasize more how much he wants Mayfield and Evans back, even saying he wants Evans to be a Buc for the rest of his career. 

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“He’s an unprecedented player that we want him to be a Buc for life,” Licht said of Evans. “We’re working towards that. It obviously takes two sides. I know he wants to be a Buc, but to get the deal done, we’ll probably have to strain a little bit. But we’re working towards that right now. A good deal is always… It takes some time for both sides.”

As for Mayfield, Licht spoke about how important he was to the Bucs and their fans.

“Baker meant a lot to this team and this fan base and this town,” Licht said of Mayfield. “I think we meant a lot to him. I think it was a perfect marriage. I think I’ve said before, he sought us out. He gambled on us. He saw it as a good situation.

“He saw it better than a lot of national people who saw us winning two games. He thought it would be good for him and it certainly was. I know he wants to be a Buc. We want him to be a Buc. That’s usually a good starting point, and the same can be said for a lot of these guys.”

Licht isn’t exaclty hiding his cards when it comes to these negotiations. But if he wants them and they want the Bucs, what’s the harm in it?

The post Who Signs First: Baker Mayfield Or Mike Evans? appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report