Before quarterback Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wide receiver Mike Evans was already among the league’s best targets. Evans notched 1,000 yards or more receiving yards in each of his first six seasons with the Buccaneers. But Evans’ efforts went down the drain as the Buccaneers failed to make it past the postseason. When Brady joined the Buccaneers two seasons ago, he instantly turned them into contenders, leading them to their first Super Bowl title since 2002 with an emphatic 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Evans also continued his strong play with Brady as quarterback, extending his 1,000-yard receiving seasons to eight.

With Brady returning for his 23rd season and his third with the Buccaneers, Evans considered it as an added motivation as he enters his 9th NFL season. “A guy that doesn’t have to do it, he just loves it so much, he just wants to win, and he demands that, it’s added motivation,” Evans said. Like his teammate, running back Leonard Fournette, Evans is happy that Brady will return for another tour of duty with the Buccaneers. Brady said he still has some unfinished business to deal with, especially after the Buccaneers failed to defend their Super Bowl title following a bitter 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round.

“He said there’s a sour taste in his mouth. There’s one in mine as well. Happy we got him back for at least one more year,” Evans explained.

Evans eyes best season

As he enters his 9th NFL season, Evans is in line for his best season yet, especially with No. 2 receiver Chris Godwin still recovering from surgery. When asked about Godwin, Evans said the team wants him back in action as soon as possible.

But while Godwin’s out, Evans said new acquisition Russell Gage could fill the void left by the wideout. "Russ was a nice pickup this offseason, obviously," said Evans, referring to Gage, who signed a three-year deal worth $30 million with the Buccaneers in the offseason. Based on his observation on Gage during his tenure with the Atlanta Falcons, Evans said he could help the team while Godwin is out.

“He's going to help our team. Obviously, we want Chris back ASAP. He's one of the best players in the league and one of our leaders,” he said. For his part, Evans said he’s trying to be the best that he can be, hoping that the upcoming season would be his "best season." When asked what “best season” means for him, Evans said it’s "winning a lot on a lot of routes and blocking great, staying healthy and winning a lot of football games." Last season, Evans caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards with a career-high 14 touchdowns for the Buccaneers.