Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

It is so easy to normalize greatness like Mike Evans’ streak of 10 straight seasons with 1,000 receiving yards. You can count on Evans quietly putting up 1,000 yards every year. It’s not the sexiest thing in the world. He’s not going to lead the NFL in receiving yards or challenge Calvin Johnson’s record (1,964). He’s not going to make a lot of headlines for sideline outbursts, crazy celebrations or bold predictions. He’s just a model of consistency who produces year after year.

This is the time to appreciate Evans, though. There were murmurs his streak of 1,000 receiving yards would be in jeopardy this year because Tom Brady retired, leaving Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask to battle for the Buccaneers’ QB job. Instead, he extended it to 10 straight seasons, the second-longest streak of all time behind Jerry Rice’s 11 straight. It doesn’t matter who his quarterback is. Josh McCown, Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brady or Mayfield … he will get 1,000 yards. 

I’ll admit, I took the streak for granted. I half expected it to end and for the downside of Evans’ Hall of Fame career to begin. Now I’m back on the Evans bandwagon in a big way after he answered any concerns about his prime being over. 

He ranked top 10 in the NFL in receiving yards, receptions and touchdown catches at age 30. He averaged 2.3 yards per route, his best since 2018. He had 10 catches of 30+ yards, the second most of his career. He showed no signs of slowing down, was Mayfield’s go-to guy in his resurgent season and Tampa Bay would miss him tremendously if he left in free agency this spring. 

Mike Evans receiving this season

Receiving yards

1,255

9th

3rd

Receiving touchdowns

13

T-1st

T-2nd

Yards per reception

15.9

8th

4th

Evans has the sixth-most receiving yards (11,680) through 10 seasons in NFL history. He trails only Rice, Julio Jones, Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss.

He has the sixth-most receiving touchdowns (94) through 10 seasons in NFL history. He trails only Rice, Moss, Harrison, Terrell Owens and Davante Adams.

Hopefully the Buccaneers find a way to keep Evans because his value goes beyond the numbers. It’s not often NFL fans see a player of his caliber spend an entire career with one team. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something special about that to me. Eli Manning and the Giants. Hines Ward and the Steelers. Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Mario Lemieux and the Penguins. Chipper Jones and the Braves. Derek Jeter and the Yankees. 

Evans is synonymous with the Buccaneers. His last game with the Buccaneers could be remembered for his team playoff-record 147-yard performance at the Lions. He has the top-four receiving-yard games in Buccaneers playoff history. He has the top-five seasons in terms of receiving touchdowns in team history, and has 60 more touchdown grabs than anyone else. 

He was a first-round pick in 2014. Has had 1,000 yards every year (I’m not sure if you heard), and won a Super Bowl with Tampa. You can’t draw it up much better than that. No active wide receiver in the NFL has had a longer run with their current team than Evans on the Buccaneers.

If he sticks in Tampa Bay, he has a chance to challenge names like Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald, Hines Ward and Michael Irvin for the best careers by a WR to play for only one team.

Evans’ 11,680 receiving yards are currently the eighth most in NFL history, all with one team. I’m counting Reggie Wayne on this list even though he signed with the Patriots and was eventually cut. It’ll be tough to catch Larry Fitzgerald, but the other names are in range. 

Most receiving yards in NFL history — all with one team

Larry Fitzgerald

17,492

Cardinals

Marvin Harrison

14,580

Colts

Reggie Wayne

14,345

Colts

Steve Largent

13,089

Seahawks

Hines Ward

12,083

Steelers

Michael Irvin

11,904

Cowboys

Antonio Gates

11,841

Chargers

Mike Evans

11,680

Buccaneers

Calvin Johnson

11,619

Lions

Rod Smith

11,389

Broncos

Evans’ 94 career touchdown receptions are the sixth most in NFL history, all with one team. 

Most Rec TD in NFL history — all with one team

Marvin Harrison

128

Colts

Larry Fitzgerald

121

Cardinals

Antonio Gates

116

Chargers

Steve Largent

100

Seahawks

Don Hutson

99

Packers

Mike Evans

94

Buccaneers

Hines Ward

85

Steelers

Calvin Johnson

83

Lions

It’ll be interesting to see how this offseason plays out in Tampa Bay. The Bucs have nearly $50 million in projected cap room, per Spotrac. Yet the Buccaneers’ other notable free agents include Mayfield, Antoine Winfield Jr., Devin White and Lavonte David. David has spent his entire 12-year career with the Buccaneers. There’s mutual interest in a return between the Buccaneers and Mayfield, who also would love to have Evans back. 

We’ll see what kind of salary cap gymnastics or hometown discounts it’ll take to bring back those stars. Evans should be the priority, though. His production this year, and everything he means to Mayfield’s future, the city of Tampa Bay and to the NFL speaks to that. 

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