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Mike Evans enters free agency hoping to remain with Buccaneers: 'I would love to be back'

If Sunday winds up being Mike Evans' last in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey, the star wideout went out adding to his club-record ledger.

Evans' 147 yards in the 31-23 loss to the Lions set a Bucs record for most receiving yards in a playoff game, breaking his own mark. Evans owns Tampa's top four postseason yardage marks.

The 30-year-old wideout enters free agency this offseason coming off a 10th consecutive 1,000-plus yard campaign. Evans earned a Pro Bowl nod, recording 1,255 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns (tied for the league lead) in 2023.

The wideout hopes to return to Tampa for another run, but, as one of the top free agents this offseason, he could be lured away.

"I've been on record saying how much I love this place and how much I want to be here," Evans said on Sunday, via the Tampa Bay Times. "Not a lot of guys finish with one team so that will be amazing if I get to do that but, you know, we'll see. I'm still trying to get over this loss."

Last offseason, the Bucs and Evans couldn't agree to terms on an extension, with the wideout's agent setting a Sept. 9 deadline to curtail talks. Evans seemed disappointed a deal couldn't get worked out in 2023, but went out and proved he can still be a playmaker.

"I don't know if I can say enough about Mike," teammate Chris Godwin said. "From the time I got here, he's been there. Been a great example not only in the way he handles himself, but also with anything I need he's there for me, whether it's advice on the field or off the field. I look at Mike like an older brother."

When it comes to Bucs team records, Evans has lapped the field, sitting atop the franchise in all-time receptions (762), yards (11,680) and touchdowns (94) by a significant margin. Losing the wideout would bring an end to a heck of an era in Tampa.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht surely doesn't want to see Evans wearing another jersey, but with other huge decisions coming, including retaining Baker Mayfield, star safety Antoine Winfield, and others, can Tampa keep the entire crew together? Even with a good amount of cap space, it might not be possible. A franchise tag for Evans, if the Bucs don't use it on Mayfield, would be $28.43 million in 2024, a seemingly prohibitive number for the 10-year receiver.

Even at his age, Evans projects to be one of the top wide receivers available in free agency this offseason. Sunday, he showed he still has plenty left in the tank.

"I would love to be back, I love Tampa Bay," he said. "Been here my whole career. The city has been great to me, the franchise has been unbelievable to me and my family. I love this place. So, we'll see."

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