Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million extension that includes $55 million guaranteed. He is now under contract through the 2023 season.
In the Buccaneers 2018 Fantasy Football Free Agency Preview, I mentioned that Evans is an excellent buy low in dynasty formats after he was a colossal disappointment in 2017. Last year’s WR17, Evans has totaled 1,000 or more receiving yards each season, but posted negative receiving fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE) in two out of four campaigns.
It’s not all bad, of course. Evans’ 4,579 career receiving yards is already third most in Buccaneers history. His 32 receiving touchdowns rank No. 6 at WR since 2014 – good but not outstanding for a receiver of his size and target volume.
The shoulder injury and generally poor play from Jameis Winston hurt Evans last season. Fortunately, Evans’ contract extension helps him maintain continuity during his physical prime. Research shows that changing teams is detrimental to WR production, not surprising given the time it takes to establish rapport between QB and receiver.
Evans has a ridiculous ceiling
The target volume will continue to be there for Evans in 2018 and beyond. Defensive coverage should loosen up if Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter schemes to get WR DeSean Jackson and the other receiving options more involved in the offense. Despite his up and down statistical production, the 2014 and 2016 seasons demonstrate his elite fantasy ceiling.
Age, athleticism, and durability are all characteristics you should value when evaluating the WR position. Evans has only missed three games over the last four seasons and will continue to be in the WR peak window for a long time.1 We’ve seen what the 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver with the 4.53 forty and 37-inch vertical can do on the football field, but the best may be yet to come.
BREAKING DOWN EVANS’ CONTRACT EXTENSION
Evans now has an average annual salary of $16.5 million. The only WR that commands a higher average annual salary is Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins is not far behind, averaging $16.2 million per year.
Evans’ agent Deryk Gilmore negotiated $55 million in injury guarantees into the contract. The previous high in this type of guarantee was set by future Hall of Fame WR Calvin Johnson. The deal also includes rolling guarantees early in the contract.2
It Won’t Be Cheap, But Buy Evans Before He’s Unattainable
Target volume surpasses everything in fantasy football. Evans’ contract suggests that he will be the focal point of Koetter’s offense. His down 2017 season, high ceiling, and the recent contract provide you an opportunity to exploit an impatient owner. You’ll still have to pay a high price, but the cost for the emerging star will only become more exorbitant.
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- Per Mike Braude, the prime of a WR’s career is from 25 to 29 and 59.4 percent of peak seasons occur in this window. (back)
- Odell Beckham and his agent are likely salivating over the fine details of Evans’ contract. His production since 2014 is superior to Evans. The only leverage that the Giants front office has in negotiation is Beckham’s season-ending fractured ankle injury in October of last year and his recent off the field headline. (back)