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Buccaneers will pick up Mike Evans’ fifth-year option

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The Bucs will keep their star receiver, but aren’t looking to give him a long-term extension just yet.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-NFL Honors Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will pick up wide receiver Mike Evans’ fifth-year option in May, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. That’s...not exactly surprising, as Evans has been a star receiver in his first three years in the league, and that fifth-year option is likely to be less expensive than a long-term extension.

Fifth-year options are CBA-mandated as part of first-round draft picks’ contracts, and if picked up come with a salary equivalent to the average of the top 10 salaries at the player’s position. In Mike Evans’ case, that would probably come down to some $13 million, judging by Over The Cap’s numbers. That’s a significant chunk of change, but a lot less than the $17 million per year Antonio Brown is currently getting.

Speaking of long-term extensions, Stroud also notes that the Bucs are unlikely to sign Evans to one this year. There’s no need to: after picking up his option Evans will be under contract through 2018, and they can use the franchise tag in 2019 and beyond if absolutely necessary.

A contract extension for Evans would likely set new records given his performance recent years as well as his youth. The Bucs have the cash and cap space to give him an extension like that, but why pay top dollar when you can keep Evans in town for less than that for at least two or three more years? The Bucs will pony up eventually, but there’s no need to rush.