These are interesting times for the Buccaneers defensive leader of the last decade, Gerald McCoy. The former first-round pick and six time Pro Bowler is essentially in NFL “salary cap limbo” at the moment.
And he continues to post on social media with thoughts about his situation and future. The latest example was an Instagram post from McCoy on Wednesday afternoon metaphorically referring to battling through storms or hard times:
That’s McCoy walking in the rain to head into the Buccaneers facility.
So, is that just an inspirational message to those that follow him on social media and to those that have been covering and observing his career in Tampa Bay? Or is he giving insight into the professional situation that he’s in? We at F.F.I. think it’s more of the latter.
It’s a nine year career that has seen McCoy enjoy a lot of personal success in terms of his stats (54.5 sacks), but very little team success, as the Bucs have only had two winning seasons while he’s been battling in the trenches of their defense.
Specifically, the last two years overall were horrible for the Buccaneers defense under coordinator Mike Smith. The 2017 defense was the worst in the NFL in yards allowed and had the fewest sacks of any NFL team.
McCoy was virtually the lone bright spot with six of those, plus another 13 tackles for loss. Yet was surrounded by numerous other defensive lineman, who were never going to start and play significantly for another NFL team.
Fast forward to 2018 with a Buccaneers having traded for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, signed free agents Vinny Curry and Beau Allen from the Philadelphia Eagles, and drafted Washington massive defensive tackle Vita Vea to bolster their line. The personnel upgrades were there.
Yet, again, Smith’s scheme was awful and the Buccaneers had the worst pass defense and scoring defense in the NFL at the point in which Smith was fired mid-season. McCoy’s numbers and impact we’re just “okay” in 2018 with again six sacks and six tackles for losses.
However, under the interim defensive coordinator, Mark Duffner, the defense overall improved slightly and the Bucs became more competitive. They ended up eventually winning a couple of games and giving some hope that they might get into the playoff chase in December. That’s something that McCoy and longtime Pro Bowl caliber linebacker teammate Lavonte David have never tasted with the Bucs.
Pierre-Paul finished with 12.5 sacks, the most for a Buccaneer since 2005. Vea blossomed over the last eight games of the year and appears to be a solid defensive tackle with great potential to grow.
Still, they faltered as a team and lost their remaining four games to finish 5 – 11 for the second straight year.
So now the question becomes, with Coach Dirk Koetter fired, but GM Jason Licht retained, and a new coaching staff led by Bruce Arians hired, is McCoy part of their plans?
He turns 31 next month, he is slated to make 13 million in salary for 2019, but that money is not guaranteed.
So, much like we wrote on Wednesday about Jaguars veteran Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell, McCoy may be in line to renegotiate for lesser overall money. However, he would get some guarantee in the form of signing or reporting bonus for this year. In that case both sides would win.
There’s also been much speculation that new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who will be the six different defensive coordinator the Bucs have had since McCoy was drafted in 2010, runs a 3 – 4 scheme that may not suit McCoy.
McCoy definitely was tweeting about that possibility and whether he would embrace it, just last week:
A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you're in and take advantage of it.
— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) January 17, 2019
If you thought the first tweet was not in reference to football, then there’s no ambiguity about a tweet the following day about playing in different schemes in the NFL:
4-3, 3-4, 5-2, Nose guard, 3-tech, DE, doesn’t matter. Either you can play football or you can’t. PERIOD!!
— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) January 18, 2019
So now we wait to see what the Bucs will work to do.
One big factor in this is McCoy is tremendous in the Tampa Bay community and the owners of the team, the Glazers, have been fiercely loyal to long-time members on the playing field for them, recently. They allowed the likes of Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and Mike alstott to finish their careers, as Buccaneers working out contractual details with all of them.
There is another factor, as well: if the Bucs choose to get rid of McCoy, there are numerous teams including in their own division, the NFC South, there will be more than happy to plug him in.
And McCoy would likely be the best defensive lineman on a couple of those teams, too.
And you have to believe that the Glazers and Licht, are fully aware of that potentially disastrous scenario of McCoy burning them with future impact on another rival team, too.
So, now we wait on what, if anything, gets done about McCoy and his money and a possible restructured new deal that keeps him in Tampa Bay.
And, we also continue to pay attention to what the hulking defensive tackle has to say online, while we do so.
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