Tampa Bay Buccaneers Enter The Offseason With Three of Its Greatest Players Eligible For NFL Free Agency.

After making the NFL playoffs last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the offseason with three of its greatest players eligible for NFL free agency. While every effort is being made to keep their famous trio, discussions are apparently not going well.

Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, and Antoine Winfield Jr. are all eligible for free agency this summer. Not only did they play a key role in Tampa Bay’s postseason success, but all three were selected to the Pro Bowl, with Evans and Winfield Jr. making All-Pro teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ cap space in 2024: $36.89 million.
Related: NFL free agency predictions: where Tampa Bay Buccaneers stars land.

While Winfield Jr. is the most likely to return to Tampa Bay next season, owing to his age and the cost-effectiveness of the franchise tag, efforts to keep Evans and Mayfield are off to a slow start.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, the Buccaneers and Evans are “far apart” in contract talks. While negotiations are underway, there is mounting speculation that the five-time Pro Bowl selection may reach the open market this summer.

All-Pro WR, Buccaneers still 'far apart' in contract negotiations |  Yardbarker

The lack of movement in contract negotiations with Evans isn’t the only issue confronting Tampa Bay. According to FOX Sports’ Greg Auman, Evans’ and Mayfield’s expiring contracts will become void on Monday. As a result, regardless of whether they re-sign with the Buccaneers, a total of $14.5 million in dead money will be counted against the Buccaneers’ cap space in 2024.

On the one hand, Tampa Bay’s front office has experience dealing with large cap impacts. The squad made the playoffs in 2023 despite having $79 million in dead money from contract restructures when they went all-in on Tom Brady.

Does Baker Mayfield want to stay in Tampa Bay?

However, the Buccaneers’ financial status places them in a precarious position. Winfield Jr., a first-team All-Pro in 2023, is set to receive the franchise tag within the next few days. While the franchise tag value for a safety ($14.46 million) is significantly lower than that for a quarterback ($32.416 million) or tagging Evans ($28.4 million), the entire $14.46 million is counted against the cap because franchise tags are guaranteed.

With the uncertainty surrounding Evans’ deal, Tampa Bay may only be able to keep Mayfield and Winfield Jr. this offseason. With that considered, Mayfield’s willingness to accept a minor discount opens the door for Evans to stay in Tampa Bay.

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