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Jason Licht: Trust me, we all want to keep Mike Evans in Tampa

The Bucs have five players on PFT’s top-100 free agent list, including three in the top 15. Bucs General Manager Jason Licht wants to re-sign them all but likely knows they won’t.

“We’re focused on signing ours right now,” Licht said Tuesday. “I mean, if we can re-sign Mike [Evans] and Baker [Mayfield], Lavonte [David] and Chase [McLaughlin] and Antoine [Winfield] and Tristan [Wirfs], we should be throwing another [Super Bowl championship] boat parade. That’s a pretty good class there.”

Wirfs is the only one of those players mentioned who isn’t a free agent, but he is playing on the fifth-year option this season in the final year of his contract.

Evans is scheduled for free agency for the first time.

The Bucs signed him to a five-year, $82.5 million deal in March 2018, a year before he was scheduled to hit free agency the first time. They want to keep him long term, and he wants to stay long term.

But can the sides make it work?

Licht was asked about a recent report that the sides were “far apart” in negotiations.

“How recent was that?” Licht asked.

Told the last few days, he responded, “OK, there was another one that said we were getting closer.”

Licht himself wouldn’t characterize where talks stand, but he made clear the team’s intentions to do everything possible to keep Evans.

“We’re working very hard on that. Both sides, both ends are,” Licht said. “Trust me, we all want Mike.”

Earlier in the day, coach Todd Bowles called keeping Evans and Mayfield “a high priority.”

Evans, 30, caught 79 passes for 1,255 yards and an NFL-high 13 touchdowns last season. He is the only receiver in NFL history to begin a career with 10 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.