New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could use another Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver for his offense, and Mike Evans could fill that role.
Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport proposed that the Patriots trade for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wideout and four-time Pro Bowler to bolster the offense this year. The Patriots only have one Pro Bowl-caliber wideout in JuJu Smith-Schuster for an offense that needs to turn things around from a disappointing 2022 season.
In two seasons, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones hasn’t even had a 1,000-yard receiver. That would likely change with Evans, who has only done that his entire career.
“Over his nine seasons in the NFL, Mike Evans has been one of the most consistent wide receivers the league has even known,” Davenport wrote. “As a matter of fact, Evans has done something no other wideout ever has—hit the 1,000-yard mark in all nine of his professional seasons.”
Evans produced 77 receptions for 1,124 yards and six touchdowns in 2022, but he scored 27 touchdowns the previous two years. He has a career average of 15.3 yards per reception, and his longest reception of each season has eclipsed 45 yards every year except for one, 2017, in his career.
“However, as consistent and productive as Evans has been throughout his career, he appeared last year to have lost a step —he averaged less than 15 yards a catch for the third straight year and scored his fewest touchdowns since 2017,” Davenport wrote.
Evans, 30, can still produce for a team such as the Patriots, and his slight regression could help in wielding a trade to land him. He has a year left on his five-year, $82.5 million contract.
In addition, the Bucs have been salary cap-strapped of late amid the retirement of former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Bucs also face significant doubters, including Davenport, about staying competitive without Brady.
“The Buccaneers could accelerate a rebuild with the draft capital gained in trading Evans,” Davenport wrote. “And even if Evans isn’t the dominant force he once was, he could still make a big difference for a contending team.”
Patriots Could Add WR Kendrick Bourne to Trade Package
New England could trade wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who has been linked to trade rumors of late, in addition to draft capital.
The Patriots have $12.37 million in cap space to work with according to Over the Cap, which means the Patriots would need to find additional ways to afford Evans. The former Texas A&M star would cost $14.5 million this season after trading Bourne per Spotrac.
Bourne, 27, underperformed in 2022 with 35 receptions for 434 yards and a touchdown.
Loyalty a Hurdle for the Patriots in Trading for Evans
The Patriots would also face the hurdle of making a convincing offer amid the loyalty between the Bucs and Evans. Tampa Bay drafted Evans in 2014 with the No. 7 pick, and he restructured his contract multiple times to stay with the team and make room for more talent.
“Publicly, at least, the Buccaneers have given little indication that they intend to move Evans, despite trade rumors that have circulated around the 29-year-old much of the offseason,” Davenport wrote.