Buccaneers WR Mike Evans is 'extremely confident' QB Baker Mayfield will return

Before Mike Evans agreed to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he checked in with Baker Mayfield.

The receiver and quarterback both went into the offseason as pending free agents the Buccaneers expressed interest in retaining. But before Evans was willing to return, he wanted a better understanding of how Mayfield was feeling.

So when Evans decided to re-sign with the Bucs on a two-year deal worth up to $52 million, Mayfield's situation was part of that consideration.

"I mean, I'm extremely confident," Evans said Friday when asked about his confidence in Baker's return. "I'm not 100 percent, but he played really great for us last year, the city took him in, the players loved him — hopefully we get him back. But he should do what's best for him.

"Me and Baker, we played one season together. I feel like we can build on what we did last year, so hopefully we get him back. He's a hell of a player. I appreciate him. They're going to handle their process, and I trust [general manager] Jason [Licht] and the front office no matter what happens."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) and quarterback Baker Mayfield, right, stand for the national anthem before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who recently re-signed with the Bucs, said he's "extremely confident" in the team's ability to bring back quarterback Baker Mayfield. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Their lone season together was a success as Evans posted 79 receptions, 1,255 yards and 13 touchdowns on 136 targets. The duo also helped lead Tampa Bay to a first-place finish in the NFC South and a wild-card win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Evans said the final thing to put him over the edge to re-sign with the Buccaneers, after back-to-back years of frustrating negotiation talks, was a conversation with his wife. Now that it's done, Evans is hoping Mayfield and Tampa Bay can work something ou, so they can keep building.

"I just want what's best for him," Evans said. "I think what's best for him would be to play with me and Chris [Godwin], but there's a lot of great receivers in this league that could use his services as well."

For his part, Licht said there have been "good conversations" between him and Mayfield's team, and that he expects to be "on call" this weekend and days before legal tampering is allowed. He said he will not panic during this process and is confident things will work out.

"I'm a confident person in general," Licht said. "I'm confident that we're going to be putting our best foot forward. We'll have more pieces, I can assure you that."