Riders want No. 1 receiver Shaq Evans back, but Saskatchewan needs to show him the money

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Saskatchewan Roughriders want to keep No. 1 receiver Shaq Evans wearing green and white.

Evans recorded 72 catches for a team-leading 1,334 yards and five touchdowns last year. His first 1,000-yard season while displaying the potential to be a long-term No. 1 target in the CFL. He’s a pending free agent but prior to leaving Regina after the season was over, Evans met face-to-face with Riders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day.

“He’s a very good player for us. The feeling is mutual, we would like to get him back. Hopefully we’re going to be able to work something out in the near future with him and his representation,” O’Day said on the 3DownNation podcast.

The 28-year-old Evans earned $76,400 for his efforts in 2019. In order for the Riders to be able to secure Evans for the future, it’s going to take in the area of $200,000. Only three players produced more yards than Evans last year, CFL MOP Brandon Banks, Bryan Burnham and Reggie Begelton. Banks is scheduled to make $195,000 in hard money for 2020, Burnham checks in at $202,000 while Begelton parlayed his success into a contract with the Green Bay Packers.

The best big play target in the league during the 2019 season was Evans. He averaged 18.5 yards per reception, which topped all qualified players and led the CFL with 15 catches of 30 or more yards. There were flashes shown in 2018 when the 28-year-old nabbed 50 balls for 785 yards — 15.7 yards per grab — and six plays of 30 or more yards.

Being healthy and productive drew NFL eyeballs for Evans. He worked out for the New York Giants in December, however no contract was offered. That shifted the focus to the CFL for Evans. The rapport between face of the franchise quarterback Cody Fajardo and Evans was dynamic just like his electric 4.40 40-yard speed.

“It’s not hard to see that they have a good connection with each other. Shaq had a heckuva year. He’s an outside receiver that put up numbers as an inside slot,” O’Day said on the 3DownNation podcast.

Fajardo led the league throwing for 4,302 yards and 28 total touchdowns, 18 of which came through the air. Saskatchewan was 12-4 under Fajardo while earning the West Division regular season title. The Riders’ offence became more potent because of the chemistry developed between Fajardo and Evans.

Saskatchewan paid up for Fajardo and the Riders will have to do the same with Evans.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.