A Real-World Position

September 4th, 2023

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Big picture, people. Big picture.

Some Buc fans don’t want to hear it, but this organization is doing the exact right thing regarding Mike Evans and a contract extension. The franchise is keeping its options open, much to the dismay of Buc Nation.

More than a few Tampa Bay fans can’t imagine life without Evans in a Buc uniform. Get over it. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

This is no longer the Tom Brady Buccaneers. For three years, this organization was all-in, surrounding Brady with veterans who could contribute to a championship run. Circumstances have now changed, and Jason Licht has a new plan in place. It’s called wait and see — and it is entirely appropriate for the upcoming season.

Ira says team Glazer is following the correct course.

In a perfect world, the Glazers would gladly show Evans the money and keep him a Buc for life. Why not? He’s the best wide receiver in franchise history by a wide margin and he’s a terrific representative for the organization.

But we live in the real world and Baker Mayfield will be under center instead of the greatest winner this league has ever known.

The Bucs could win the NFC South for a third consecutive year — or they could go 5-12 and be in the market for a new head coach and new quarterback.

Keeping Evans and Chris Godwin together gives Mayfield the best chance to resurrect his career. But if things go south, Evans could be used as leverage to acquire additional capital for a quarterback-rich 2024 draft.

“At age 30, Evans has more value to a contender then to a rebuilding team with a young quarterback,” a former NFL GM told me. “If Mayfield does not have the Bucs in contention by the trade deadline in a weak division, Evans is a valuable trade commodity. He will have real value to a contender If the Bucs are in contention at the trade deadline, I think they will keep him and deal with the contract issue in the off-season.”

Buc fans can’t believe this team would even consider dealing Evans. A little history lesson is in order.

Joe Montana? Traded. Brett Favre? Traded. Davante Adams? Traded. Marshall Faulk? Traded. Randy Moss? Traded. Tony Gonzalez? Traded. Tyreek Hill? Traded. Ronnie Lott? Released. Jerry Rice? Released.

When I had a chance to talk with the great Bill Walsh years ago about how to build and sustain a winning organization, he revealed one of his core principles: always look to get rid of a player a year early rather than a year too late.

Sage Ira pulls a Bill Walsh quote from his files.

“I have spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how I was going to phase out certain players for whom I had strong feelings,” Walsh said. “But that was my job. I wasn’t hired to do anything but win.”

Evans has every right to seek a contract extension. And while Evans isn’t thinking about a season that could go off the rails, Licht has to consider every possibility. If Mayfield plays well and the Bucs go 10-7, Evans will likely get his money next spring. That’s a win-win.

But without Brady on this roster, Vegas oddsmakers do not believe the Bucs have what it takes to post a successful season. And if they’re looking for a Caleb Williams or a Drake Maye, the Bucs will need all the resources they can muster.

What if the Bucs are 2-6 and Sean Payton’s Broncos offer their first-round pick for Evans? Shouldn’t Licht at least pick up the phone and negotiate?

Of course he should.

Throughout NFL history, franchise icons have been traded or lost in free agency. As good as Evans has been since he came aboard in 2014, he’s not Jerry Rice. After his release by the 49ers in 2001, Rice went on to play four more seasons, catching an additional 268 passes for 3,648 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Clearly, Rice wasn’t through, but San Francisco was through with him. It happens … and it could happen to No. 13.

Mike Evans

It’s easy to say the Glazers should take command of this impasse and order Licht to pay the man his money. If Brady was 40 and still under contract with the Bucs through 2026, this Evans deal would already be done.

Through his agent, Evans is trying to ramp up the pressure on the Bucs. Nice try.

“Jason Licht will not be swayed by public opinion,” said the former GM.

Whether or not Evans returns to Tampa Bay in 2024, his legacy at One Buc Place is secure. His spot in the Ring of Honor is assured and Canton may be calling down the road.

For the long-term health of this franchise, the Bucs are doing the right thing. Mike Evans will have every opportunity to help the Bucs win this fall. But should things unravel, he could be a key to winning big in the spring.

Join Ira Kaufman and Bucs fans on opening day at the Big Storm Brewing Co. taproom in Clearwater, on 49th St. just south of Ulmerton Road. It’s a 1 o’clock kickoff and Ira will be hanging out starting at 11:45 a.m. 

Beautiful covered patio with strong sightlines and audio. Indoors, too! Cocktails, Florida’s best craft beer and more.


Huge covered and comfortable outdoor patio at Big Storm Brewing Co. in Clearwater.

Click on through to check out their website.

Fun time ahead.

Indoors too! Joe highly recommends the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich and fries.

34 Responses to “A Real-World Position”

  1. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Someone do a wellness check on ModhairKen stat.
    This is serious.
    The truth hurts.

  2. Sly Pirate Says:

    Good take. Great article.

    Personnel decisions and contracts are Licht’s job. Licht has given us a Super Bowl and 2xNFCS championships. He’s shown us he has a plan, a vision for the team, and the ability to execute. Now he’s building the next great Bucs’ team.

    I have faith in Licht.

  3. Duane Says:

    Agreed. A well reasoned explanation of what is happening. Bucs fans and media talking heads can complain all they like and demand immediate payment of Evans, while some others are screaming that the Bucs should immediate trade the “ingrate” for daring to ask for market money. Both sides of that silly argument could not be more wrong.

    The Bucs are truly in a wait and see position this season – either all their bets on Mayfield and rookies and UDFAs will pay off with another division championship, in which case Evans will get a deal with the Bucs to finish his career … or the bets will fail and then lots of change is coming to the Bucs in 2024.

  4. DS Says:

    Players come and go but the fans stay

  5. Mike S Says:

    No need to extend right now. Mike has a great season – give him the 25 he’s asking for. If he has a down year – give him a contract equal to his production.

  6. Hodad Says:

    I still don’t get why Bowles would be fired if the Bucs go 5-12? That’s all the Bucs are supposed to do this year. How do expect any coach to go 12-5 when you have a 5-12 roster? Doesn’t matter anyway, Bowles is safe this year, and next, for the same reason they aren’t giving Evans a new deal, money. The Glazers aren’t going to pay Bowles for three years to sit home. He’s in the second year of a five year deal.They know this isn’t a S.B. contending team anymore. They’re not going to pay two coaches only to get the same results. You think the Bucs have a better chance winning next year with a new coaching staff, and a rookie QB? Good luck with that.

  7. William Walls Says:

    Those are some good points, Hodad.

  8. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    ME has the ultimate way to put pressure on Licht and that is to simply ball out and put up huge numbers. BTW Licht does personnel decisions , but Greenberg is the numbers guy on contracts , and Greenberg will replace Licht when he gets fired.

  9. DRM Says:

    Good article and perspective –

  10. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Agree with Hodad that it would be a little crazy to fire a coach of a cash-strapped team with what is perceived to be little talent. I don’t think Canales would have come if he thought it could be one and done. My question is, if Bowles and Mayfield make it through the season and come back next year, are we going to have to read another year of whining and crying posts from the usual malcontents?

  11. Buddha Says:

    We should be grateful we have Licht. He is a highly underrated GM. Wait and see is the right thing to do. Every team that doesn’t win the Superbowl has failed. It doesn’t matter if you are 12-5 or 3-14. The Superbowl is what counts. Ask Buffalo. Ask Cincy. Ask Minnesota. Ask Charlotte. Ask San Diego. The Glazers have proved they know what matters and are willing to spend what it takes when the time is right. Would you rather be in Dallas where the team always looks good on paper and fails? Enjoy the games. I will. This is not our year but there will be much to entertain us.

  12. ModHairKen Says:

    Yeah, that’s a cold slap in the face. I’m human. I love guys like Evans. I think they make the team better in immeasurable ways. He’s the kind of man that can make an even bigger difference in the community when he retires. Keeping him in Tampa for life would be nice. Like Mike Alstott.

    But those beliefs are why I’d suck as a coach and GM. Loyalty and decency have to have a place in sports, says the loser.

    Still, pay the man.

  13. K_bassuka Says:

    Completely agree with you Sage!

  14. Cover deuce Says:

    Here comes Ira, helping the Joes make excuses for bad management decisions from the Glazers. Why exactly is the handling of mikes contract dispute considered shrewd and savvy? He’s been a HoF level producer for 10 yrs and a cornerstone of the locker room and community. This is a no brainer for everyone except apparently the people who work at JBF. Ownership will happily give Bowles another year to muddle through mediocrity and struggle to his 5th consecutive losing season bc he coordinated one SB defense – while arguably the greatest offensive player in team history gets the It’s Just Business treatment. Insane, and you guys have seemingly no desire to question the wisdom of any of it.

  15. Babygrace Says:

    I couldn’t agree more “Hodad Says.” Finally Someone has posted some sanity!

  16. Buc1987 Says:

    Hodad…the Glazers have paid coaches just to leave in the pass. Gruden and Schiano come to mind.

    Hell they might still be paying Gruden j/k.

  17. Derobbins Says:

    We should have traded last year. Shaq should be on the plate this year near trade deadline too

  18. Davefan76 Says:

    So what you’re saying if the Bucs have a bad record this year it’s not important for a new quarterback to have Mike Evans to throw too ?

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    This team has had so few bright spots, so when a guy like Evans comes along, we want to embrace him forever.

    Unfortunately, as Ira points out, pro football can be a cold, cruel bidniz.

    It would be painful to see Evans in a different uniform, so the solution is for Mayfield to be a monster and the Bucs win bigly.

  20. Bucsthis Says:

    Ira, Joes, let’s be transparent here. Those big name players that were traded. The major outlier here is they didn’t play for the Bucs. The Bucs are known for their atrocious handling of good and great players. Name another team, other than the Vikings, where their WR is the face of the franchise? How about we make right for the DECADES of bad management and sign the greatest offensive player this team has ever had? Better yet, the best player this team has ever had. Licht started his journey by making Evans his first pick as GM, he should end ME13 career by being a buc for life.

  21. JBBUCS_06 Says:

    You do NOT get rid of ME13. Some players mean more to a team than others. ME13 went thru the dog dog dog days, played hurt, won the SB with NO ego letting Psychonio Brown get TD pass. He’s still a mismatch and wants to be here. We aren’t winning a SB anytime soon. Give us players we can root for and ME13 has always been one of them.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    Awesome rationale Sage. Like you said so eloquently ‘It’s not personal. It’s just business’.

    And Hodad, you’re spot on about Todd Bowles. He’d be fired IMO only if the Glazers are convinced that he’s lost the locker room, and that’s highly unlikely. Bucs have an excellent, stable, highly experienced coaching staff to work with & develop our young team, and there’s no way the Glazers would jeopardize that just on a whim.

    Looks to me like the Bucs are on the front-end of a transition ‘back to the future’ that’ll take 2-3 years to complete (hopefully). Our heritage is more defense-oriented, although starting in about 2015 we tried to become more offense-oriented. I really believe that Todd Bowles is looking for a, shall we say ‘happy medium’ such that we become a more ‘balanced’ team. That’s pretty much what we were in 2020 when our offense ranked #3 & our defense ranked #8. We even improved on that in 2021 when our offense ranked #2 & our defense was #5. Last year we fell off a cliff for various reasons, with our offense at #25 & our defense at #13. That’s terrible ‘balance’.

    I’d love to see our defense rank in the Top-10 this season, although we’ll need some luck (injury-wise) to do that. Would also love to see our offense improve to middle-of-the-pack (say #15). Based on last year’s stats, we’d have to score 365 points (21.5 PPG average) and only allow 346 points (20.4 PPG average). Both seem doable to me.

  23. pmarcello Says:

    Enough with the backhanded shot at Baker. Baker i folowing the greatest winner my butt. He i following the greatest cheater and fix in NFL history.

  24. Buc1987 Says:

    pmarcello…the greatest QB the Bucs have ever had.

  25. Mike C Says:

    The Division (which is SUPER weak) or his head!

  26. ElioT Says:

    Great take.

    This thing will work itself out in the best interest of both parties.

    If this team is good, Evans retires a Buc… if they’re bad, let the guy close out his career with a contender.

    Go Bucs.

  27. Why Not Says:

    It is smart to hold on to Evans for now and see how the season plays out. If things go south in a hurry, we could try to find a trade partner to a contending team before the trade deadline, but if things are going well, we hold on to Evans. Once the season’s over, we can decide what to to do next. The Bucs have the franchise tag in their back pocket. I personally think this team is going to surprise some people. There is still too much talent on this team for the Bucs to tank.

  28. HC Grover Says:

    With Maybowles they could match McKays perfect season.

  29. Fred McNeil Says:

    That is about the finest serving of football common sense I’ve read all year. Thanks Ira.
    I’d always thought it was Bellicheat who coined that “year too early” phrase, but that’s probably just where he got it from.

  30. Creamsicle76 Says:

    Yes, it is a business decision. But, the more things like this happen to players fans are invested in, the less the fans are invested in the team. That should be part of the business decision too.

    I know I lose some give a darn about the NFL every time this happens. As a kid I lost a lot of give a darn about the Bucs when Doug Williams was not resigned. I know, that was not just business, but the point applies. Lost some when Jimmy Giles left. Lost some when Derrick Brooks was dropped. Will lose more if Evans goes. Every time, I watch fewer games, buy fewer tickets, buy less merchandise.

    In college ball, I get the transfer portal and nil may help players get a more reasonable deal for all their very hard work putting on a good game for us. But that, plus all the other changes to the game, have me watching, following, and caring a lot less for my teams than I did in the old days in college too. Same sort of thing.

    I get it. But I don’t like it. And, accounting for fans not liking it is part of the business decision. So, don’t tell us to get over it. We would not be very good fans if we just got over losing beloved players.

  31. Blue Ridge Buc Says:

    If they can get a #1 today, ME13 would be already gone. To think they’d have a chance to get that in late October is ridiculous.

    You’ll get the best return right now. Make the deal & let’s move on. In two years, a 32 year old possession receiver is worth nothing.

  32. Bucnjim Says:

    Great franchises seem to have a formula for rebuilding while staying competitive. There is absolutely no reason the Bucs can’t do the same! I’d rather win 9 games while collecting young talent for the next playoff run. This does require some tough decisions to be made.

  33. Bucsfan951 Says:


    Correct me if I am wrong but the Bucs have fired a coach and hired another, paying them both. To be honest, I would not be the least bit surprised if they had 3 coaches on the books.

    As for the 5-12 team, that is one’s opinion.

    As for bringing in another coach who can do more with this same team, yes, that could happen and I am sure has happened more times than what you think. Chucky comes to mind! The glazers are businessmen. If management isn’t getting the job done, they will find someone who will. It’s a business at the end of the day and positive results are needed to stay employed.

    Not trying to argue with you but I disagree with your opinion.

  34. garro Says:

    “For the long-term health of this franchise, the Bucs are doing the right thing. Mike Evans will have every opportunity to help the Bucs win this fall. But should things unravel, he could be a key to winning big in the spring.”

    Spot on Ira! That is as concise a take as I have seen, and all that really needs t be said. I love Mike and what he has done for the Bucs and the community but I love the Bucs a bit more.

    Go Bucs!