Tampa Bay Buccaneers veteran wide receiver Mike Evans’ altercation with New Orleans Saints corner Marshon Lattimore will cost him the opportunity to play in a key game on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
The NFL announced Wednesday morning that jointly appointed appeal officer and former NFL wide receiver James Thrash upheld Evans’ suspension following an appeal hearing.
Mike Evans suspended for the second time
This marked the second time that Evans was disciplined by the league for tangling with Lattimore, having been suspended one game in 2017 for an altercation. This will also cost Evans one game check, which is $62,222 after he restructured his contract previously in a negotiation between the team and agent Deryk Gilmore.
Evans was not ejected in the 2017 situation but was suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct. During the hearing, the argument was made that an ejection is sufficient discipline since that shows that the league takes a shoving situation seriously when no punch was actually thrown.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan, a retired Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle, wrote Evans a letter stating why he was suspended.
“After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines,” Runyan wrote. “When you noticed your teammates engaged in a confrontation with Saints’ players, you ran toward that area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of that confrontation.
“You knocked your opponent to the ground and a melee ensued involving players from both teams. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”
Evans’ agent, Deryk Gilmore, said the following, “We are disappointed that the league upheld a suspension when there are several arguments of players doing more egregious violations including: punching, kicking, and choking players and not being suspended. In addition, Evans had already been ejected, which is penalty enough, but the league choice to discipline him even more. This is unfortunate, but we will respect the league’s decision.”
Evans and Marshon Lattimore have a history
Evans took down Lattimore, which sparked a brawl. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady argued with Lattimore. Then, Lattimore got into a shoving match with Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette. That set the stage for Evans to knock down Lattimore.
In 2017, Evans hit Lattimore after the defensive back shoved Jameis Winston, who was playing for the Buccaneers at the time and is now the Saints quarterback.
“In 2017, I didn’t even get ejected, and that was really a cheap shot,” Evans said after Sunday’s game. “This wasn’t. He punched my teammate in the face, and I just pushed him to the ground. I was just trying to have my teammates’ back. All I seen is him punch somebody in the face, and I’m like, ‘I ain’t gonna let that happen. It gets spicy when you come to New Orleans.'”
Saints coach Dennis Allen said, “I’ve been around this league long enough. Usually, they don’t get the instigator; they usually get the responder. I think what happened after that was a little bit excessive, so we will see how that goes.”
How will the Buccaneers proceed without Evans?
The official signing of slot wide receiver Cole Beasley to the practice squad is well-timed with Evans unavailable.
Beasley’s reliability as a proven sure-handed presence is expected to fit in extremely well with quarterback Tom Brady who is excited about the addition of the former Buffalo Bills wide receiver, according to a league source. Beasley is expected to be promoted quickly to the 53-man roster, per a source.
The Buccaneers could also be playing without starter Chris Godwin potentially sidelined for another week due to a hamstring injury suffered in the season-opener after returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season.
Additionally, Julio Jones is not 100 percent due to a knee injury. The Buccaneers hope to get Jones back on the field and get contributions from Russell Gage and Breshad Perriman.
“We’ll see how he recovers,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said of Jones. “Again, we’ve got a long week ahead of us and I can’t make that decision without seeing us.”
Beasley drew serious interest and contract offers from multiple NFL teams before joining the Buccaneers, per a source.
Beasley, 33, was one of the top available free agents. NFL teams, including head coaches, made efforts to recruit Beasley. Beasley caught 82 passes for 693 yards and one touchdown last season for the Buffalo Bills.
The former Dallas Cowboys undrafted free agent from SMU caught passes this summer in Austin with Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield while training with since-retired wide receiver Danny Amendola, another accomplished wide receiver who played with Brady in New England.
After being given permission to seek a trade from the Bills, he was released in March. Beasley is a proven commodity, having combined for 164 receptions and 1,640 yards, and five touchdowns for the Bills over the last two seasons. He has 550 career catches for 5,709 yards and 34 touchdowns.