Around the NFL: Mike Evans Staying in Tampa, Combine Winners and Losers, More

Rome Odunze

The wide receiver free agent class took a hit this morning with Mike Evans deciding to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We’ll discuss that and the NFL Scouting Combine winners and losers in Indianapolis last week and how their performances could impact their NFL Draft stock.

Mike Evans is staying in Tampa Bay

Mike Evans, the star wide receiver of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has agreed to a two-year, $52 million contract extension to stay with the team. This move prevents Evans from exploring the free-agent market, considered a significant victory for the Buccaneers.

The Athletic’s Dianna Russini shared this from Evans’ agent Deryk Gillmore:

“Mike just called me last night and said I want to be a BUC for Life. Myself and Darren Jones have worked hard to get this deal done.”

The new deal will pay Evans an average of $26 million per year, which makes him the fourth-highest-paid receiver in the NFL. Despite being in his 30s, Evans is still considered one of the best pass catchers in the league. He holds several records for the Buccaneers, including the most receiving yards (11,680) and touchdown catches (94). Evans also boasts an impressive ten seasons of over 1,000 receiving yards in his decade-long career with the team.

The contract extension is significant because it allows Evans to play his entire career with the Buccaneers and provides the team with stability as they attempt to keep their roster intact. With several high-profile free agents, including Antoine Winfield Jr. and Baker Mayfield, the Buccaneers are looking to hold onto as many key players as possible. The retention of Evans could also be a factor in Mayfield’s decision to return to Tampa Bay in 2024.

Mike Evans Buccaneers
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 16: Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers carries the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Mike Evans extension softens the free-agent wide receiver class

Taking a receiver like Evans off the open market is not great news for teams hoping to fill holes at the position this offseason. It is good news for the free-agent receivers, though; with Evans off the board, they’re asking prices will climb.

With Evans extended, Tee Higgins tagged by the Bengals, and Michael Pittman expected to remain in Indianapolis (whether via the franchise tag or an extension), the top end of the wide receiver class has taken a hit.

Guys like Marquise Brown, Calvin Ridley, and Darnell Mooney are now the cream of the crop in the wide receiver free-agent class. So, if you need a starting wide receiver this offseason, you should plan on filling that need in the NFL Draft in April.

Here are the top 10 wide receivers available after Evans, Higgins, and Pittman (via PFF):

  1. Marquise Brown
  2. Calvin Ridley
  3. Darnell Mooney
  4. Gabe Davis
  5. Odell Beckham Jr.
  6. Tyler Boyd
  7. Curtis Samuel
  8. Kendrick Bourne
  9. D.J. Chark
  10. Michael Thomas

NFL Scouting Combine Winners and Losers

The NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, and we’re one step closer to clarity in the 2024 NFL Draft. Let’s quickly discuss some winners and losers from this year’s annual event in Indianapolis.


  • WR Xavier Worthy, Texas: Worthy broke the combine record for the 40-yard dash in just 4.21 seconds, becoming the talk of the league. Worthy’s explosive speed distinguishes him as a big-play threat in the NFL. His 41-inch vertical leap was fourth among all wideouts. Despite questions about his lean build, teams gamble on game-breaking speed in the draft.
  • WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU: Thomas was believed to be a first-rounder before the combine, now he’s the clear-cut WR4 in this class and likely to be selected in the top 20 picks if not earlier.
  • WR Rome Odunze, Washington: Odunze was stellar this weekend in every drill and test. He was 2A/2B for me (with Malik Nabers) heading into the weekend, and now I believe he’s the clear WR2 in this draft.
  • G/T Troy Fautanu, Washington: Fautanu stood out among several big blockers during the NFL combine stage, showcasing impressive agility and physical tools, including 34 ½-inch arms. While projected as a potential guard, Fautanu’s performance makes a strong case for him to remain in his natural position. He’s expected to be a mid-first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
  • CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo: Mitchell has put to rest concerns about his ability to keep up with faster, stronger receivers. At the combine, he ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, the second-fastest among his position and third overall. He had a smooth outing during drills and is expected to be selected in the teens by teams in need of a cornerback.
  • LB Payton Wilson, N.C. State: Wilson, a 6-4 233-pound linebacker, stood out with his impressive athleticism by running the fastest 40 in his group (4.43 seconds) and impressing during position drills. He is an accomplished player, having won the Bednarik Award, but his draft stock may depend on his medical outlook, as he has undergone 10 surgeries.
  • TE Theo Johnson, Penn State: Johnson, along with Kansas State’s Ben Sinnott, made a statement among tight ends in Indianapolis. At 6-6 and 259 pounds, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds and achieved a 39-inch vertical. This could help him become one of the first tight ends taken after Brock Bowers.
  • OG Cooper Beebe, Kansas State: The two-time Big 12 Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year proved his athleticism with a 1.75-second 10-yard split on his 5.03 40 at 322 pounds. He performed well in position drills, thanks to his experience at tackle, and his measurements are similar to those of Chris Snee, a former Pro Bowl lineman.
  • Losers

  • WR Troy Franklin, Oregon: Franklin struggled at the event, weighing in at a thin 176 pounds, down 11 from his listed weight. Despite his impressive 4.41-second 40-yard dash, he appeared inconsistent and less polished than his competition. This could hurt his chances on draft day.
  • WR Keon Coleman, Florida State: It seems that Coleman’s chances of being selected in the first round have decreased after his performance on Saturday. Despite weighing in at 213 pounds, his 40-yard dash time of 4.61 seconds did not impress the teams who were looking for a top-level prospect. However, his jumps were acceptable with a 38-inch vertical and 10-foot-7 broad. His straight-line strides on the field were impressive, but his cuts and transitions when running routes were not sudden.
  • CB Kalen King, Penn State: King had a great sophomore season in 2022, which led to some hype about him being a possible first-round pick. However, his follow-up season was shaky and raised concerns about his ability to keep up with receivers downfield. With his recent performance, it will be challenging for King to be selected on Day 2 of the draft.
  • S Kamren Kinchens, Miami (FL): Teams interested in Kinchens may rely on his tape due to his lackluster performance at Lucas Oil Stadium. He had a slow 40-yard dash of 4.65 seconds, tied for worst among all safeties, and struggled with backpedaling. Kinchens may be better suited for zone-heavy defenses.
  • OT Olu Fashanu, Penn State: Fashanu was hoping to secure a top-10 selection in the combine. Unfortunately, he injured his right thigh during his first 40-yard dash (5.11 seconds; 1.77 10-yard split). His hand measured 8.5 inches, smaller than expected for a tackle prospect. Despite this, he performed well in other tests (32-inch vertical, 9-foot-1 broad). However, with his injury, he will need to impress teams during his pro day and private workouts to secure a high draft position.
  • written by

    Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

    more bears news

    Eberflus and Waldron Spark Cubs Offense, Newfound Caleb Love, Remembering Bill Tobin, and Other Bears Bullets

    Sorry for the late version of post-brunch Bears Bullets. I'll make it up to you somehow. I don't want to lead off with somber news, but I do want to pay some respect to Bill Tobin. The former Bears exec...

    Sounds Like Caleb Williams and the Bears Are Already Hashing Out His Rookie Deal

    The latest from NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero is QB-heavy. And if you're a fan of the Chicago Bears, you will want the section dedicated to Caleb Williams. There is all sorts of good stuff about his play style, background,...

    QB Friendly Bears, New Lions Threads, Tottenham-bound, and Other Bears Bullets

    I'll say this about Taylor Swift: Surprise dropping a double album (with the second installment dropping at 1 a.m. CT) prepared me for how to best piece together Bears content at an unholy hour next week while simultaneously trying to...

    What About Byron Murphy II as a Bears Target With the No. 9 Pick?

    I'm starting to wonder if maybe University of Texas star Byron Murphy II fits the bill as a Chicago Bears draft target.. In his latest at NBC Sports Chicago, Bears insider Josh Schrock wonders if Chicago's football team could be...

    One Pundit Thinks Trading Up to Draft Joe Alt Makes Sense For the Bears

    The idea of the Chicago Bears drafting a butt-kicking offensive tackle is something that continues to pop up. Perhaps Notre Dame's Joe Alt is something on the team's radar. NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah opines Alt could be someone...

    Chicago Bears 3-Round Mock Draft: Exploring Potential Picks To Surround Caleb Williams

    The winds of change are howling through Halas Hall. After years (decades) of searching, the Chicago Bears appear set to finally land their franchise quarterback, Caleb Williams, with the top overall pick. This signals a new era for the Bears, but the...

    Draft Day is Coming, NFC North QB Prospect Watch, Crews, Warren, and Other Bears Bullets

    The Chicago Cubs finished a winning road trip with a series win against the defending NL champs. Taylor Swift has a new album that drops at 11 p.m. CT. And the Chicago Bears will usher in a new quarterback era...

    2024 NFL Mock Draft: How Will Quarterback Chaos Unfold In First Round?

    Only one week remains until the biggest event of the NFL offseason — the 2024 NFL Draft. Caleb Williams is going first overall unless something totally unexpected happens. But outside of that, there are still so many questions left to...

    Chicago Bears Mock Draft Trade Proposals Seem to Target One Particular Position

    I had a great visit with my therapist today. Between that and an afternoon cold brew, I've got enough in me to power through an evening Bears post. Let's dig into some recent mock drafts that are giving off a...

    Sounds Like the Bears Will Consider Taking Brock Bowers If They Stay at No. 9

    For all the discussion about the big three wide receivers who could be on the Chicago Bears radar on NFL Draft weekend, a different high-profile pass-catcher is apparently garnering some interest from the team. All-American tight end Brock Bowers had...

    Latest News

    Braves vs. Rangers Probable Starting Pitchers – April 21

    After winning six games in a row, the Atlanta Braves (14-5) play at home against the Texas Rangers (11-11) at 7:10 PM ET on Sunday.This contest's pitching matchup is set, as the Braves will send Darius Vines to the mound,...

    Giants vs. Diamondbacks Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Sunday, April 21, 2024

    The San Francisco Giants (10-12) and Arizona Diamondbacks (10-12) meet Sunday at Oracle Park, with first pitch at 4:05 PM ET on NBCS-BA. The Giants are -114 moneyline favorites for the contest, however, the Diamondbacks are favored against the spread...

    Dodgers vs. Mets Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Sunday, April 21, 2024

    The New York Mets (12-8) hope to complete a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers (12-11) when the teams meet at 4:10 PM ET on Sunday. The Dodgers are -260 favorites to prevent the Mets from completing the sweep.Los...

    Padres vs. Blue Jays Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Sunday, April 21, 2024

    The San Diego Padres (11-12) hope to avoid their fourth straight defeat when they host the Toronto Blue Jays (12-9) Sunday at 4:10 PM ET on SNET. The Padres are listed as -128 favorites to snap their losing skid, while...

    Kyrie Irving Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Clippers – NBA Playoffs Game 1, Sunday, April 21, 2024

    To beat his 3-point prop, Kyrie Irving must make four from beyond the arc on Sunday, when his Dallas Mavericks face the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, starting at 3:30 PM...

    James Harden Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Mavericks – NBA Playoffs Game 1, Sunday, April 21, 2024

    The Los Angeles Clippers face the Dallas Mavericks at 3:30 PM ET on Sunday, in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, and one of the 3-pointer props available for this matchup requires three trifectas from James...

    Luka Doncic Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Clippers – NBA Playoffs Game 1, Sunday, April 21, 2024

    Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks face the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday at 3:30 PM ET in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, and to beat his 3-point prop, he must make five from downtown.Luka Doncic's Three-Pointer...

    Kawhi Leonard Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Mavericks – NBA Playoffs Game 1, Sunday, April 21, 2024

    On Sunday at 3:30 PM ET, the Los Angeles Clippers meet the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, and Kawhi Leonard's 3-pointer prop for this clash requires two treys.Kawhi Leonard's Three-Pointer Prop Odds...

    Paul George Player Props: Three-Pointer Props and Odds vs. the Mavericks – NBA Playoffs Game 1, Sunday, April 21, 2024

    At 3:30 PM ET on Sunday, in Game 1 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, it'll be the Los Angeles Clippers versus the Dallas Mavericks, with Paul George needing four trifectas to beat his 3-pointer prop.Paul George's Three-Pointer...

    Mariners vs. Rockies Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Sunday, April 21, 2024

    The Seattle Mariners (10-10) and Julio Rodriguez (four hits last time out) are favored (-194) on the moneyline for their matchup with the Colorado Rockies (4-16) on Sunday at 3:10 PM ET on COLR.George Kirby starts for Seattle while Cal...

    more bears news