Mike Evans development should put Carolina Panthers on red alert

Could the Carolina Panthers reunite Mike Evans with Dave Canales?

Mike Evans
Mike Evans / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

An intriguing development regarding wide receiver Mike Evans should put the Carolina Panthers on high alert in their quest for a genuine WR1.

Mike Evans has torched the Carolina Panthers for years. He's been a constant thorn in the team's side almost from the moment he was drafted. With the wide receiver set to embark on free agency, that could be about to change.

This is a deep class of wideouts set to hit the open market. Extensions and franchise tags will diminish this significantly before the legal tampering period begins in three weeks. The Panthers are in desperate need of better weapons for quarterback Bryce Young, but money is tight as the new regime looks to clean up the mess left by those who came before.

Evans would be one of the most coveted pass-catchers in free agency despite his advancing years. He's gone over 1,000 receiving yards in every season since being drafted out of Texas A&M. He's one of the most underrated wideouts around. One could make a strong case for him being a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer as it stands.

Carolina Panthers should call about Mike Evans

Acquiring Evans seems like a pipedream to many. However, the prospect became more realistic after an intriguing development regarding his contract stalemate with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to Dianna Russini of The Athletic, no new deal for Evans is imminent. This was the cut-off date to make things cheaper for the organization. Things will get more expensive from here on out, although the insider acknowledged that both sides are working towards an agreement in good faith.

The closer we get to free agency, the more it seems like Evans will test the market. The Buccaneers have taken on $7.4 million in dead money regardless of whether a deal gets done or not. These developments aren't going to go unnoticed around the league, but could the Panthers throw their hat in the ring?

It's worth a call to his representatives, at the very least.

Evans is already familiar with new head coach Dave Canales, which would help smooth the transition. The pair worked closely together on the Buccaneers last season. He was highly complimentary of the offensive coordinator after his switch to an NFC South rival was confirmed. Convincing the veteran to join this ambitious project would be a major statement of intent.

It would also give Young the legitimate WR1 he lacked during an underwhelming rookie campaign. However, it doesn't seem like the Panthers have enough spare financial resources to pull it off.

Once the Panthers extend Frankie Luvu and Brian Burns, there is not a lot of salary-cap space left. That will change thanks to early releases and contract restructures. Whether Carolina can justify spending $20-plus million on Evans when there are so many holes elsewhere is another matter.

There's also the question of whether Evans would see the Panthers as a viable option. Canales' presence will help in terms of altering his perception. But when push comes to shove, he might opt to go somewhere with a better chance of earning another Super Bowl ring.

This is a fluid situation. There are many more dominos set to fall in the coming weeks. Evans would instantly legitimize the Panthers' plans for gradual growth with Canales leading the charge. But when it comes to the NFL, dream scenarios rarely become reality.