Mike Evans was always destined to be an athlete. He started to catch the eye of college recruits in high school, where he was a three-sport athlete – excelling in basketball (18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists per game as a senior), football (24 catches, 580 yards, 6 TDs), and track and field (jumping and relay).
While he easily could’ve pursued a career in basketball and had a shot at the NBA, he decided to stick with football and teamed up with Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. Evans recorded 151 catches for 2,499 yards and 17 TDs with the Aggies between 2012 and 2013 before declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft.
It was there that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Mike Evans as the No. 7 overall pick and it didn’t take long for him to mark his territory in the NFL. It didn’t seem to matter who was throwing him the ball, he became an immediate threat with his combination of size, speed, and – of course – incredible hands.
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Mike Evans Now Entering His 10th Season in the NFL
Since entering the league, Mike Evans has been one of the most consistent and reliable wide receivers on a year-to-year basis. He has played in 137 games with the Buccaneers over the past nine years and has recorded 683 receptions on 1,185 targets for 10,425 yards, 532 first downs, and 81 touchdowns.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that he’s the ONLY wide receiver in NFL history to post at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first nine seasons in the league – and he has an opportunity to make it 10 straight seasons if he can do it again this year. When his team needs him, he’s almost always there.
While many people believe he’ll struggle to hit that 1,000-yard mark this season – alluding to the fact that he just turned 30 years old on August 21 – he has yet to give us any reason why that might be true. He has come through year after year, no matter who his QB was or how good the team around him was.
With the start of the 2023 regular season just one week away, let’s take a look back at Mike Evans’ impressive career up to this point – highlighted by his nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards.
1. 2014 Season – 1,051 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2014 campaign (rookie season) with 122 targets, 68 receptions, 1,051 yards, and 12 touchdowns in just 15 games – he was inactive for their Week 5 matchup against the New Orleans Saints. His quarterbacks for the season were Josh McCown (11 games) and Mike Glennon (5 games).
Nearly half of his production came during a three-game stretch in Week 9 (7 catches, 124 yards, and 2 touchdowns vs. the Cleveland Browns), Week 10 (7 catches, 125 yards, and 1 touchdown vs. the Atlanta Falcons), and Week 11 (7 catches, 209 yards, and 2 touchdowns vs. the Washington Commanders).
Aside from those 3 weeks, he only had more than 50 yards in 5 games – including in Week 3 (4 catches for 52 yards), Week 4 (4 catches for 65 yards and 1 TD), Week 6 (4 catches for 55 yards and 1 TD), Week 8 (4 catches for 78 yards), and to finish the year in Week 16 (5 catches for 54 yards and 1 TD).
Evans finished the season third in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting – he received 1.0 votes. Dallas Cowboys’ right guard Zack Martin finished in second with 7.0 votes and New York Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. won the award with 42.0 votes – he had 91 receptions, 1,305 yards, and 12 TDs.
2. 2015 Season – 1,206 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2015 campaign (second season) with 148 targets, 74 receptions, 1,206 yards, and 3 touchdowns in 15 games – he was inactive for their Week 1 opener against the Tennessee Titans and only played in 61% of his team’s offensive snaps the following week vs. the New Orleans Saints.
He had at least 100 yards in five games – including Week 3 (7 catches for 101 yards), Week 7 (8 catches for 164 yards and 1 touchdown), Week 9 (8 catches for 150 yards), Week 10 (8 catches for 126 yards), and Week 15 (9 catches for 157 yards). He came close in Week 16 with 4 receptions for 99 yards.
Aside from his masterful Week 7 performance, he only had a TD in two other games during the 2015 season – he scored one in Week 11 (4 catches for 63 yards and 1 touchdown) against the Philadelphia Eagles and another in Week 13 (5 catches for 61 yards and 1 touchdown) against the Atlanta Falcons.
Up to this point in his career, he still had yet to record a 10-reception game – though he had his first nine-reception game in Week 15. He had several other opportunities, including his 17 targets in Week 3, 19 targets in Week 9, and 17 targets in Week 15. His starting quarterback in 2015 was Jameis Winston.
3. 2016 Season – 1,321 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2016 campaign (third season) with 173 targets, 96 receptions, 1,321 yards, and 12 touchdowns in 16 games – his first full season in the NFL. It was also his second season with Jameis Winston as his starting quarterback. Evans earned his first AP All-Pro Team and first Pro Bowl nod.
He had at least 100 yards in four games – including Week 3 (10 catches for 132 yards and 1 TD), Week 9 (11 catches for 150 yards and 2 TDs), Week 11 (6 catches for 105 yards), and Week 12 (8 catches for 104 yards and 2 TDs). He also had 99 yards in Week 1, 96 yards in Week 7, and 97 yards in Week 16.
He scored at least one touchdown in 9 of his 16 games played – including two touchdowns in Week 7 vs. the San Francisco 49ers, Week 9 vs. the Atlanta Falcons, and Week 12 vs. the Seattle Seahawks. He also scored a touchdown in each of the first three games and had six touchdowns in the first six games.
Winston was targeting him as much as possible throughout the season – recording at least 11 targets in 10 of his 16 games played, including seven consecutive games between Week 2 and Week 9. He had a whopping 18 targets vs. the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 and 17 targets against the Falcons in Week 9.
4. 2017 Season – 1,001 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2017 campaign (fourth season) with 136 targets, 71 receptions, 1,001 yards, and 5 touchdowns in 15 games – he served a one-game suspension during Week 10 for pushing cornerback Marshon Lattimore in the back during the Buccaneers’ 10-30 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.
Evans only had one 100-yard performance in 2017 – he finished Week 16 with 6 catches on 8 targets for 107 yards vs. the Carolina Panthers. He came close to 100 yards with 93 yards and 1 TD vs. the Bears in Week 1, 95 yards and 1 TD vs. the Cardinals in Week 6, and 92 yards vs. the Dolphins in Week 11.
Four of his five touchdowns in 2017 came in the first seven weeks of the season, but he only had one TD in his next nine games – which is very unlike Evans. He also only had double-digit targets in seven of his 15 games – with his most being 13 targets in the team’s final game of the season (he had just 5 catches).
It was certainly a down year for a 6’5’’ wide receiver who just had the best season of his career the year prior. A lot of his struggles came with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback – who played in Week 6 and then Weeks 9-12 while Jameis Winston nursed a shoulder injury. Still, Evans was 1 yard above 1,000.
5. 2018 Season – 1,524 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2018 campaign (fifth season) with what was one of the best seasons of his career. He had 138 targets, 86 receptions, 1,524 yards (current career-high), and 8 touchdowns in 16 games (his second full season with the team). Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick split time as his QB.
He had at least 100 yards in 8 of his 16 games played, including a whopping 147 yards in the season opener and 137 yards in Week 3. He also recorded 107 yards in Week 7, a season-high 179 yards in Week 8, 120 yards in Week 11, 116 yards in Week 12, 121 yards in Week 15, and 106 yards in Week 17.
Despite his impressive 1,524 yards receiving, he was only targeted 138 times (just two more than what he had the year prior, when he had just 1,001 yards). He had double-digit targets in 6 of his 16 games played (season-high 13 targets in Week 8) and double-digit catches in just one game (10 catches in Week 2).
Evans ended up earning his second Pro Bowl nod with his impressive play and finished the year ranked third in receiving yards, third in yards per reception, third in receiving yards per game, and ninth in yards from scrimmage. He also had a fumble return for a touchdown in Week 11 against the New York Giants.
6. 2019 Season – 1,157 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2019 campaign (sixth season) with 118 targets, 67 receptions, 1,157 yards, and 8 touchdowns in just 13 games played – he was inactive for their Week 15 matchup against the Detroit Lions before spending the final two weeks of the season on Injured Reserve due to an injured hamstring.
Evans had three monster games in 2019. He had a whopping 8 catches for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns vs. the New York Giants in Week 3, 11 catches for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. the Tennessee Titans in Week 8, and 12 catches for 180 yards and 1 touchdown vs. the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.
He also had a season-high 17 targets, 9 catches, and 96 yards against the Carolina Panthers in Week 6, had 4 catches for 89 yards and 1 touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4, and 1 catch for 61 yards and 1 touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 before leaving the game with an injury.
Many people wonder what could’ve been for Mike Evans during the 2019 season – he managed to rack up 1,157 yards in 13 games, but he only played in 23% of his snaps in Week 14 and had 0 catches on 3 targets in Week 5. Still, he was impressive enough to earn his second straight (third total) Pro Bowl nod.
7. 2020 Season – 1,006 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2020 campaign with 109 targets, 70 receptions, 1,006 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 16 games – it was his first season with Tom Brady as his starting quarterback. It wasn’t good enough to earn another Pro Bowl nod, but he won something much more impressive – a Super Bowl championship.
During the regular season, Evans had four 100-yard games in 2020 – he had 7 catches for 104 yards and 1 touchdown in Week 2, 7 catches for 122 yards and 1 touchdown in Week 4, 6 catches for 110 yards in Week 15, and 10 catches (season-high) for 181 yards (seaso-high) and 2 touchdowns in Week 16.
Evans and Brady found their chemistry very early on and connected for at least one touchdown in 10 of his 16 games played – he had six touchdowns through the team’s first five games of the season. He also had three multi-touchdown games in Week 3, Week 12, and Week 15 – scoring two TDs in each game.
It was a special year for Evans, who made his playoff debut on January 9, 2021 and went off with 6 catches and 119 yards in their 31-23 win against Washington. He then had a touchdown in the Divisional Round and AFC Championship Game before earning a trip to the Super Bowl – which they won 31-9.
8. 2021 Season – 1,035 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2021 campaign with 114 targets, 74 catches, 1,035 yards, and a career-high 14 touchdowns in 16 games – it was his second season with Tom Brady under center. He was inactive for their 32-6 win vs. the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 and only played in 23% of their snaps in Week 15.
Evans only had two 100-yard performance in 2021 – putting up 8 catches for 106 yards vs. the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3 and 6 catches for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. the Miami Dolphins in Week 5. He came close with 7 catches for 99 yards in Week 13 and 6 catches for 91 yards in Week 14.
He only had four touchdowns through the team’s first six games (two touchdowns in Week 2 and 2 touchdowns in Week 5), but went on to score 3 touchdowns in Week 7 and had 7 more touchdowns in his next 9 games played – he had 10 TDs between Weeks 7 and 18, despite his injury in Weeks 15 and 16.
His impressive play earned him his fourth Pro Bowl nod and he was equally as impressive in the team’s two playoff games. He had 9 catches for 117 yards and 1 touchdown in their 31-15 win over the Eagles and had another 8 catches for 119 yards and 1 touchdown in their 27-30 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
9. 2022 Season – 1,124 Yards
Mike Evans finished his 2022 campaign with 127 targets, 77 receptions, 1,124 yards, and 6 touchdowns in 15 games – it was his third and final year with Tom Brady, who retired in February. Evans was inactive for the team’s 12-14 loss to the Packers in Week 3 and their 17-30 loss to the Falcons in Week 18.
Evans had three 100-yard games in 2022 – including his 8 catches for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns vs. the Chiefs in Week 4, his 6 catches for 123 yards vs. the Ravens in Week 8, and his 10 catches for 207 yards and 3 touchdowns vs. the Panthers in Week 17. He also had 9 catches for 96 yards in Week 7.
He struggled to find the endzone, though. His six touchdowns came in just three games – he opened the season with a touchdown vs. the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, had 2 touchdowns vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4, and had his monstrous game with 3 touchdowns vs. the Carolina Panthers in Week 17.
He didn’t earn a Pro Bowl nod and was beat out by Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Terry McLaurin, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Evans and the Buccaneers only played in one playoff game last season, but lost 14-31 to the Dallas Cowboys – he had 6 catches for 74 yards, but no touchdowns.
What’s Next for Mike Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Mike Evans has proven time and again that he’s a 1,000-yard receiver. He did it with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon during his rookie year (2014), Jameis Winston for three years (2015, 2016, 2019), Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick for two years (2017, 2018), and Tom Brady for three years (2020, 2021, and 2022).
For the 2023 season, he will have a new quarterback calling plays inside the huddle – Baker Mayfield – which will be his sixth quarterback in 10 seasons. The last time Mayfield threw at least 1,000 yards to a WR was in 2019 with the Cleveland Browns, when Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry each did so.
If Baker wants to prove his worth in the NFL, this is his chance – and he has the support to do it. Between Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, he has the talent around him to succeed. The real question is will he rise to the occasion and give Evans his 10th straight 1,000-yard season? I guess we’ll find out soon enough!
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