Mike Evans

5 Potential Replacements for Mike Evans in Tampa Bay

Per Bleacher Report’s NFL insider Jordan Schultz, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Mike Evans remain “far apart” in contract extension talks, and it’s unlikely they’ll reach a compromise before Evans becomes a free agent in March. If he does leave, his departure will leave Tampa Bay without their best wideout, and they should actively scout for replacements during free agency or the upcoming draft.

Here are some wide receivers that could potentially make their way to Tampa and replace Evans in the Buccaneer offense.

5 Potential Replacements for Mike Evans in Tampa Bay

Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. emerges as the most obvious option to replace Evans in Tampa Bay’s offense. The USC product has spent his first four seasons in the league with the Colts, during which he has recorded a total of 336 receptions, 3,662 yards, and 15 touchdowns, posting career-high numbers in 2023 in each of these stats with 109 receptions, 1,152 yards, and four touchdowns, respectively.

Further aiding his case, at 26 years old, he has a long time left in the league. On top of that, he has said that although he has “loved his time with the Colts, he wants to explore other options.” If he does arrive in Tampa Bay in free agency, he’ll be Baker Mayfield‘s top option on offense and could be on track to improve his 2023 numbers even more in 2024.

Tyler Boyd or Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

Two highly skilled receivers who have been crucial components of the Cincinnati Bengals‘ offense, wideouts Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins could also be strong candidates to fill Evans’ role in Tampa Bay.

Higgins, 25, was drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 2020 draft and has since served as Cincinnati’s No. 2 receiver, only behind superstar Ja’Marr Chase. Over a four-season stretch with the Bengals, he has racked up 257 receptions for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns, making him one of the best young receivers in the league and part of one of the league’s best receiver duos alongside Chase.

On his part, Boyd, 29, an eight-year veteran in the NFL, has been one of the best slot receivers in the league since his rookie season in 2016. Over eight seasons, he has recorded 513 receptions for an even 6,000 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Now, one of them will most likely receive Cincinnati’s franchise tag during the offseason. The Buccaneers must make a push to sign whoever of the two doesn’t get tagged, as both options are equally valuable for Tampa Bay’s offense.

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley had his best season since 2020 after leaving the Atlanta Falcons via a trade in 2022. After not playing the entire 2022 season due to receiving a suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policies, Ridley returned for the 2023 season, in which he caught 76 passes for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns while functioning as the Jags’ No. 1 receiving option.

Due to a condition included in the terms of the trade that sent Ridley from Atlanta to Jacksonville, if the Jaguars decide to re-sign him, they’ll have to send the Falcons a second-round pick in the draft instead of a third-rounder. This doesn’t mean they won’t re-sign him, as General Manager Trent Baalke already said that he’d “love to have [Ridley] back, and will work around that,” but this certainly helps his free agent case and increases his chances to become a Buccaneer ahead of the 2024 season.

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

Looking over this year’s upcoming draft, we find one of the most stacked wide receiver classes in recent years. The Buccaneers come in with the 26th overall pick but could trade up in order to land a better player in the first round. If they do, LSU wideout Brian Thomas Jr. appears as the best selection the Buccaneers could make in this year’s draft.

As was mentioned in a previous article, his big size along with his quickness make him a dangerous red-zone option and a great route runner, two abilities that the Bucs would be looking for in a potential Evans replacement. Also, drafting him would be cheaper than bringing in an already established receiver, but it would also be riskier. It’ll be up to the team to decide their preferred course of action and follow through with it.

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