Late Monday evening, the Buccaneers announced the inevitable: they were releasing the third overall pick in the 2010 draft and the cornerstone figure in the franchise, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. According to reports and a team announcement, the decision to part ways with McCoy was “mutual”.
The move allows the team to save having to pay him $13 million this upcoming season, while also enabling them to have enough money to sign rookie linebacker Devin White to his contract.
General manager Jason Licht stated: “These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally. Over the past nine years, Gerald has been a cornerstone of this franchise and a leader in our community. Parting ways with a player and person such as Gerald is one of the toughest responsibilities of this job. We wish Gerald, along with his wife, Ebony, and the entire McCoy family continued success and thank them for everything they have meant to our organization and community.”
The move was forthcoming, as new head coach Bruce Arians stated earlier in the offseason that McCoy “wasn’t as disruptive a player as he was (four years ago), but he’s still a good player”. What made matters more interesting was McCoy, who normally was a figure at Buccaneers voluntary OTAs, never showed up, and was also quoted as saying “I’m going to be playing football somewhere”.
Tampa was attempting to trade McCoy to another team but failed to find anyone who wanted to take on the salary implications his 2014 extension entailed. Had someone went ahead with this, they not only inherited his 2019 salary, but $10 million in 2020 and $10.4 million in 2021. Both years also included a $2.5 million roster bonus.
For McCoy, who has the longest active streak of seasons with at least 5.0 sacks (seven), he is now eligible to sign with any team at their price. Some teams that are reported interested were the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is reportedly looking at signing Ndamukong Suh, who ironically was selected second overall in the same draft as McCoy.
One thing is for sure: wherever McCoy plays, he’ll bring a veteran presence to any defensive line. Let the sweepstakes begin.