2024 NFL WR Free Agents: Calvin Ridley, Marquise Brown, Gabe Davis Ascend After Bucs Re-Sign Mike Evans

There's still some upside on the WR free agent market.

Five-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer Mike Evans erased his name from the list of top 2024 wide receiver free agent candidates after re-signing with the Buccaneers.

Evans, entering his 11th season, was set to hit the free agent market next week, but instead signed a two-year, $52 million contract to remain a Buccaneer.


Originally, Evans had said he wanted to test the open market, but The Athletic reports his agent, Deryk Gilmore, said Evans wanted to “remain a Buc for life.” Evans’ new deal was reported the following day.

The Super Bowl champ has posted 10 consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards, one shy of tying Jerry Rice’s all-time record. He also sits at 94 career touchdowns, good for 10th all-time among wideouts.

Evans has achieved greatness on the field and for fantasy owners despite shaky quarterback play outside of his three seasons with Tom Brady. Sometimes thought of as 1B to teammate Chris Godwin, Evans was drafted around No. 71 (WR29) overall in leagues during the 2023-24 season. In his first year with Baker Mayfield, Evans tied the league lead for receiving scores with 13 and scored approximately 230 points in non-PPR and 282.5 in PPR*.


Evans was also downgraded again last season with the one-year signing of Mayfield. However, Mayfield posted career-bests in passing touchdowns and quarterback rating, while eclipsing the 4,000-yard plateau. 

Godwin has only finished above Evans in fantasy points once during their seven years together (2019), despite what feels like annual preseason rumors of the two swapping places, with Godwin finally becoming consistently explosive out of the slot, but that has yet to happen.

The main plus to Evans and Godwin both remaining on the Bucs, is the unlikelihood of Evans being double-teamed often. Defenses must remain honest in pass coverage due to Godwin’s skills and not throw all their chips in Evans’ basket. 

Evans is no Tyreek Hill, even if the two tied for the league touchdown lead, but the Dolphins’ Hill-Waddle one-two punch can be applied to Evans-Godwin. Leave one open, they’re likely to make a big play.


Evans’ re-signing may also hint at Mayfield returning. The former No. 1 pick, playing on a cheap $4 million contract last season, theoretically gets his favorite weapon back. It’s seemingly more unlikely Tampa Bay will opt for a new signal-caller, even with the pay increase required, after he helped lead the Bucs to a division title and Wild Card playoff win.

If the Mayfield-Evans duo returns to Florida in 2024, it will help support the case for Evans to move up significantly on 2024 Fantasy Football Rankings. The Wolf has Evans lower than the ECR at WR21 (-6), while Mayfield sits at QB25 (-2).

Evans remains a high-end touchdown and red zone threat with a safety valve. He finished last season sixth in total red zone targets, third in total end zone targets, and averaged roughly six targets per game.


Not only is Mike Evans no longer available. But the Bengals franchise tagged Tee Higgins, and the Colts tagged Michael Pittman, likely drying up the top of the wide receiver pool.

However, a few fantasy-related names remain unsigned.


The Jaguars tagged defensive end Josh Allen, leaving its top receiver from one year ago available to all teams.

Jacksonville signed Ridley to a two-year deal, with his first unplayable due to a gambling suspension. However, he topped 1,000 yards in a loaded Jaguars offense last season. 

Ridley is the team’s No. 1, ahead of Christian Kirk, Evan Engram, and Zay Jones. However, Jones is also a potential cut candidate as he currently carries nearly an $11 million cap hit.

According to Spotrac, Ridley is in the market for a four-year deal with around $17 million annually. Yet, at 30, Jacksonville may not invest in him that long. 

But, teams such as Detroit or Tennessee may.

Detroit will likely lose Josh Reynolds, and adding another punch to an offense with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta could be deadly. Or, a stint in Tennessee could make Ridley the clear No. 1. The Titans, in theory, will have money to do it after likely letting Derrick Henry walk.


After a trade that sent him and a third-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick, Marquise Brown embarked on a tumultuous journey in Arizona. Despite flashes, Brown faced his own share of setbacks, including injuries and the absence of his former college teammate Kyler Murray due to a torn ACL. Their anticipated collaboration didn’t materialize as frequently as anticipated under the new regime’s direction.

Standing at only 5-foot-9 and weighing 180 pounds, Brown occupies a unique niche as an outside wide receiver, a rarity in the NFL landscape. Yet, as the league increasingly embraces players of this stature, such as soon-to-be rookie Xavier Worthy, questions arise about Arizona’s willingness to commit to extensions, especially considering their team timeline and the emergence of rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson.


The Bills are regarded as a pass-heavy team, yet Gabe Davis can’t find a consistent stride. One game, he has four touchdowns, and the next, he has one catch in a high-scoring affair. 

Even after cutting half of its secondary on Wednesday, Buffalo could wind up with little wiggle room when free agency begins next week. With the writing on the wall in Buffalo for Davis, it appears Davis will have to bring his untapped skill set elsewhere.

It only takes one team to believe it can make Davis a more consistent player and that could be the Commanders, Lions, Chiefs, or Bears — to name a few.

Other names to keep an eye on: Darnell Mooney, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Boyd, Curtis Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Michael Thomas, DJ Chark, Josh Reynolds, Noah Brown

The start of 2024 NFL Free Agency begins on March 13 at 4 p.m. ET.


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