Tampa Bay Releases 6-Time Pro Bowl Player To Avoid Big Price Tag


The Gerald McCoy era in Tampa Bay has come to an end after nine seasons.

McCoy, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft, was released Monday from the only franchise he has ever known.

He was productive last season with six sacks, but money appeared to be the motivating factor in the Buccaneers’ decision to release the six-time Pro Bowler.

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McCoy was due to make $13 million next season, which would have ranked sixth among defensive tackles. Cutting him removes that amount from the books for the Bucs in the 2019 season.

He had two more years on his contract that totaled about $25.5 million. McCoy has made over $110 million in his NFL career.

Bucs GM Jason Licht released a statement thanking McCoy for his contributions to the team and the Tampa Bay community.

“These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally,” Licht said. “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.”

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To replace him, Tampa Bay was nearing a deal Tuesday with former Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

There were rumblings that the Bucs were trying to trade McCoy earlier in the offseason, but teams knew that if no trade happened he would likely be released.

The trade speculation led to McCoy skipping both the offseason program and voluntary OTAs.

In addition to McCoy’s big salary, new head coach Bruce Arians told reporters he was less disruptive than earlier in his career. There were also questions about how McCoy would fit Arians’ scheme. The former Arizona Cardinals coach has brought on Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, and he’s installing a 3-4 alignment, which the Bucs haven’t used since 1990.

Arians won’t get to coach McCoy, but he wished the 31-year-old defensive tackle the best going forward.

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“I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here,” Arians said. “You hate to see good football players go, but this is a decision that we felt needed to be made in order to allow us, and Gerald, the ability to move forward. Gerald is a class act, and I wish him the best.”

McCoy made six straight Pro Bowls from 2012 to 2017 and was a first-team All-Pro in 2013. He has recorded at least five sacks in each of the past seven seasons and ranks third in the NFL in sacks among defensive tackles over that span.

Off the field, McCoy and his wife launched the Patricia Diane Foundation, which provides low-income single parents with resources to give their children the same opportunities that other families have.

Because of his work with the foundation, McCoy was selected as the Buccaneers’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2018.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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