Mike Evans has only played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his 10-year NFL career. But the star wide receiver is one step closer to exploring new teams, according to The Athletic, as he and the Bucs will not reach a contract extension on Monday.

Evans' current contract doesn't expire until March 11, when all 31 other teams are free to begin negotiating with the Pro Bowler. But the Buccaneers could've saved roughly $7.4 million against their 2024 salary cap by extending Evans by Monday afternoon. Fellow free agents Baker Mayfield and Antoine Winfield Jr. have similar contract structures.

"Each of those key players have void years in their contracts to help with previous cap situations," reports CBS Sports Lead NFL Insider Jonathan Jones. "While all are, in reality, pending free agents, their future fake years automatically void Feb. 19. That means that money that was pushed out into future years would come due against the 2024 salary cap. But if deals can be reached before Monday afternoon, that money can be saved against this upcoming season's salary cap and pushed out into future years."

In other words, Evans could still sign a new deal with the Bucs. But the team had an extra incentive to finalize an extension by Monday. With that opportunity passed, Evans remains on track to test the open market starting March 11.

The wideout's future in Tampa figure to be affected by ongoing negotiations with both Mayfield and Winfield, two of the most accomplished veterans set to hit free agency. Evans has reason to hold off on an extension until the Bucs finalize their 2024 QB plans, with Mayfield fresh off a career resurgence under center, but the team may not be able to afford both at market value.