Mike Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to a hefty contract extension that sent shockwaves throughout the NFL and could have implications on the Chicago Bears’ search for a top wide receiver of their own.
First, the details on Evans’ extension:
The #Bucs 5-year deal for WR Mike Evans is worth $82.5M, which is $16.5M per year. He gets $55M in guarantees. 💰💰 … a target for Jameis Winston for a long time.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2018
Evans’ new deal is a five-year pact that comes with $55 million in guarantees and could be worth up to $82.5 million. Once it becomes official when the new league year begins, the extension will surpass DeAndre Hopkins’ deal in total value ($81 million) and total guarantees ($36 million).
An annual average salary of $16.5 million, which is what Evans stands to earn upon signing this agreement, could be used as a talking point in negotiations. Bears GM Ryan Pace has talked about being aggressive in free agency, but wanting to exercise some caution in not making a reckless move that would harm the Bears’ salary cap situation.
Potential Bears free agent targets Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins, as well as Jarvis Landry (who was traded to the Browns on Friday) will likely use the new benchmarks set by Evans as a reference point for their next deals.
We might get a sense of how desperate the Bears are to add pass-catching talent around quarterback Mitch Trubisky when contract negotiations start to heat up.
- As fate would have it, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus believes the Bears’ biggest offseason question revolves around who Trubisky will be throwing to in 2018. Monson seems to believe the Bears’ offensive line is in better shape than we think, and if that’s the case, then wide receiver is far and away the team’s biggest offseason need. The solution, for Monson, seems easy and that’s to use their cap space as a strength and make Allen Robinson the top priority with a strong offer. Of course, it’s never that easy.
- Add Luke Easterling of USA Today’s DraftWire to the growing chorus of pundits who see the Bears’ problems at receiver as the biggest need heading into free agency. Easterling doesn’t seem to be a believer in Kevin White as a post-hype sleeper, White’s status as a first-round disappointment shouldn’t prevent GM Ryan Pace from shooting his shot this offseason as the team tries to build around Trubisky. Robinson, naturally, is the name Easterling has his eyes on as he expects the Bears to be “primary suitors” for his services.
- NFL.com Senior Analyst Gil Brandt lists the Bears as the team with the most riding on free agency in 2018. The Bears’ free agent class of 2018 was a whiff as Mike Glennon, Quintin Demps, Dion Sims, Marcus Cooper, and Markus Wheaton were among the non-factors signed to multi-year deals in 2017. Chicago has already gotten out of Demps’ deal and will be ridding itself of Glennon’s contract soon enough. OverTheCap.com has the Bears with more than $50 million in projected cap space, which Brandt believes gives them room to make serious moves. However, Brandt warns about the pitfalls of overpaying for players who aren’t going to produce.
- But seriously, Allen Robinson looks like he’ll be worth the investment:
More Allen Robinson from ‘16 — Pivot route. That’s pretty nasty. pic.twitter.com/TUS5KDS2L2
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 10, 2018
- Kevin Fishbain and Dan Durkin of The Athletic has a free agency plan that would net a handful of new starters for the Bears offense. Fishbain lays out a scenario where the team adds some fresh faces already on our radar such as tight end Trey Burton, quarterback Chase Daniel, and wide receiver Albert Wilson. As we discussed yesterday, signing Wilson would likely spell the end of Kendall Wright’s time in Chicago.
- Fishbain and Durkin strike again to come up with a free agency plan for the defensive side of the ball. The Plan™ includes re-signing defensive end Mitch Unrein and linebacker Christian Jones, while adding upside free agents in cornerback in Aaron Colvin (Jacksonville) and edge defender Trent Murphy (Washington).
- Over in the Daily Herald, Bob LeGere doesn’t think the Bears have to make a big free agent splash in order to improve the team. Instead, LeGere believes a better course of action would be to shore up weak spots throughout the roster to avoid a scenario where the team won’t have to reach in the draft. All things considered, it’s a sensible and logical idea.
- The Bears have just 46 players signed to contracts right now, which would have been the fewest in the league had it not been for the Seattle Seahawks’ recent roster purge. For example, the only receivers under contract for 2018 are Markus Wheaton and Kevin White. Adding Robinson would be a great start to the offseason, but the Bears need to add at least four more new bodies to build a well-rounded group and create some competition in training camp.
- As we mentioned earlier, Jarvis Landry is officially off the radar after being traded to the Cleveland Browns. JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t think the Dolphins’ asking price for Landry lined up with what the Bears wanted to do. I can see both sides of the argument. Trading a pick in 2018 and another in 2019 without giving up a first- or second-round selection in either draft is a win for the Browns. But trading for the right to pay Landry a significant amount of money comes with its own set of risks. Considering the Bears’ needs throughout the roster, trading picks to sign a free agent would have been tough to sell considering Pace’s stance on building through the draft.
- As it turns out, the Bears’ pursuit of Landry might not have gone as far as we have been led to believe. Sources tell Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the Ravens were the only other team seriously pursuing Landry. The Bears were believed to be in the running at one point, but that rumored Jordan Howard deal did nothing more than fan the flames of the trade market. The Dolphins weren’t getting anything that good in a deal for Landry because they were trading from a position of weakness. Frankly, they should be glad to have received what they did.
- Meanwhile, the Browns have been cleaning up this offseason:
Browns’ 24-hour tally:
QB Tyrod Taylor
WR Jarvis Landry
CB Damarious Randall
Packers’ 4th- and 5th in 2018.
Patriots’ 3rd in 2019.
2018 3rd-round pick
QB Deshone Kizer
2018 4th- and 5th.
DT Danny Shelton
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2018
- Chris Gedney, who played three seasons for the Bears after being drafted in the third-round by the team in 1993, has died at the age of 47. Gedney had an injury riddled pro career, but was an absolute stud at college for Syracuse. He was a consensus All-American in 1992 and left for the NFL as the school’s all-time leader in catches. No cause of death was listed.