3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers who won’t be back thanks to Mike Evans contract

In light of Mike Evans' lucrative contract extension, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have trouble retaining these three free agents.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Perry Knotts/GettyImages
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Mike Evans isn’t going anywhere. After giving some thought to exploring the idea of potentially playing for a new team for the first time in his illustrious NFL career, Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a contract extension.

The two sides agreed to a two-year, $52 million deal, per ESPN’s Senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, making Evans one of the league’s highest-paid wide receivers and taking him off the market.

Retaining Evans at such a high price will make it challenging for Bucs general manager Jason Licht to address other areas of need this offseason, including re-signing other players, but Tampa Bay ensures they will have their Pro Bowl wideout through the 2025 season.

All things considered, the Bucs will be hard-pressed to bring these players back in light of Evans’ lucrative contract extension.

3. Ryan Neal won't be back with the Buccaneers

In 2022, Ryan Neal broke out with the Seattle Seahawks before the team elected to sign Pro Bowl safety Julian Love last offseason, which prompted the former to take his talents to Tampa Bay.

Neal settled into a starting role in 2023 with the Bucs, starting 13 of the 15 games he played. In those games, he logged a career-high 76 combined tackles but failed to record an interception, fumble, pass deflection, or sack. His inability to impact games for Tampa Bay in 2022 was illustrated by his counting stats (or lack thereof), making it hard to justify extending him.

Now, with Evans making $26 million annually, retaining Neal feels like a pipe dream.

The Bucs brought in Neal because his size and ability to defend against both the run and pass, making him a desirable safety in the secondary. But they don’t have much flexibility when it comes to re-signing him if they want to be able to address other areas of need.

After recording a 48.1 PFF grade, it’s clear that Neal’s fit in head coach Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme was less than ideal in 2023. Barring any surprises, 2023 will likely be the safety’s first and last season with the Bucs in light of the Evans extension news.