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This upcoming Monday wouldn't be considered an important date on most NFL calendars, but One Buccaneer Place has had Feb. 19 circled for some time.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could save around $11 million against the 2024 salary cap if they can somehow agree to contract extensions with quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Mike Evans and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. by Monday afternoon.

Here's why: Each of those key players have void years in their contracts to help with previous cap situations. While all are, in reality, pending free agents, their future fake years automatically void Feb. 19. That means that money that was pushed out into future years would come due against the 2024 salary cap. But if deals can be reached before Monday afternoon, that money can be saved against this upcoming season's salary cap and pushed out into future years.

According to sources, it is improbable that all three would get deals done with the Bucs in the coming days. Winfield Jr. appears destined for the franchise tag at around $18.2 million next month unless the two sides can reach an agreement on a long-term contract that would pay the first-team All-Pro safety top-of-the-market money. The Winfield savings on a pre-Monday deal would be less than $1.2 million against the cap, so it's not a huge deal for the Bucs.

Mayfield could get a deal done by that soft deadline, but the savings aren't immense there, either. The Bucs would save $1.725 million against the 2024 cap if he gets a deal done in the coming days.

Mike Evans
TB • WR • #13
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Evans is the big-ticket item who could save Tampa Bay some actual money against the cap. By re-signing Evans by Monday afternoon, the Buccaneers would save $7.387 million against the 2024 salary cap.

Before the start of the season, the Buccaneers decided against extending Evans as he went into the final year of his contract. He went on to record his 10th consecutive 1,000-yard season while getting his second second-team All Pro nod. Evans owns every meaningful receiving record in Buccaneers history, and many consider him to be a future Hall of Famer.

He signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract in 2018, and he goes into next season in his age-31 campaign. Very rarely do wide receivers of his vintage get major money on a third contract, but he's going to break the mold.

Evans' value has to be above Chris Godwin's $20 million per year in average annual value. And there are very few comparisons for Evans, who's still playing at an All-Pro level at age 30. DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr.'s deals from last year aren't apples to apples for Evans.

The closest comparison may be Cooper Kupp's three-year, $80 million deal after his Super Bowl MVP year. Kupp signed it entering his age 29 season after a year in which he led the league in receiving yards with 1,947. Evans will be 31 this upcoming year and, while coming off a solid year, didn't put up Kupp 2021 numbers.

But the Buccaneers are likely to have competition for Evans if he hits the open market. Teams like the Chiefs, Jets and Panthers are all expected to be in the market for a receiver. A player who consistently racks up 1,000 yards and would serve as a quality veteran presence in a locker room would be attractive to just about any team out there.

Baker Mayfield
TB • QB • #6
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Mayfield's market is unique, sources say. He's a former No. 1 overall pick with no major injuries who's entering his age 29 season. Removing the Buccaneers from the pool of potential Mayfield employers, you also have to remove the teams that have had and moved on from Mayfield (Browns, Panthers and Rams), plus the teams with entrenched starters, plus the teams who have a high enough draft pick to select a rookie quarterback who could start Week 1.

Once you get through that exercise, there aren't many teams in need of a capable starting quarterback like Mayfield. Atlanta, Minnesota and Denver all come to mind as possibilities to varying degrees. But the point being, there likely wouldn't be an auction for Mayfield.

Mayfield signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Bucs last season in an effort to resurrect his career. He won the starting job over Kyle Trask in the preseason and never relinquished the position.

Mayfield earned $2.85 million in incentives this past season, mostly from hitting crucial playtime thresholds while getting the Buccaneers into the playoffs.

It's possible, if not likely, the Buccaneers would value Mayfield more than any other NFL team. But that doesn't mean they can lowball him and run the risk of disrespecting the quarterback. A reasonable starting point, according to league sources, would be a tick above Geno Smith's three-year, $75 million deal with Seattle last year that allowed for a Seahawks out after one season.

Either juicing up the average-annual-value or the guaranteed money would help position the deal as a win for Mayfield, who is coming off a playoff victory for Tampa Bay.

Would anyone else in the NFL be willing to pay Mayfield that? Perhaps not. But he wants to be in Tampa and the Buccaneers want him back. And that deal, according to league sources, is "fair."

The franchise tag for quarterbacks is too rich for Mayfield at more than $35 million. And, again, the team should want to reserve their one tag for Winfield. The Bucs will have between Feb. 20 and March 5 to issue that tag with the hope of getting a long-term deal done.

Tampa Bay has made no secret about wanting Evans and Mayfield back, and the two seemingly reciprocate those feelings. Monday's soft deadline is only relevant for book-keeping purposes, but it can be an important date for the Bucs.