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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs released DT Gerald McCoy Monday

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has played his last game as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

This comes after a Monday night report first from Tampa Bay Times long-time Buccaneers beat writer Rick Stroud that the Bucs, will in fact, release the nine year veteran and save $13 million off of their salary cap in doing so:

McCoy, who made six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2012-2017 and is the Bucs former number 1 pick in 2010, still had three years remaining on a lucrative six year $95.2 million contract. However, none of the remaining money for this year or the future was guaranteed. So, there is only salary cap relief for the team.

The team confirmed the move later on Monday night:

As we have written repeatedly this off season, the Bucs were apparently trying to force McCoy to take a pay cut off his $13 million salary and had basically told him to stay away from the facility (where he would be risking injury guaranteeing his money) during the off season.

The first indication that the Buccaneers were playing contractual “Hard-ball” came at the NFL Owners meetings in March, when first year coach Bruce Arians publicly questioned whether McCoy would be back for a 10th season. Arians used the phrase, “if he’s here, he’s our starting 3 technique.”

The key part being , “if he’s here.”

McCoy enjoyed a lot of personal success in his Bucs career in terms of his stats (54.5 sacks) and the Pro Bowl recognition, 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, he was surrounded by numerous other defensive lineman, who were never going to start and/or play significantly for another NFL team. Three of those linemen who played significantly around McCoy were out of the NFL in 2018.

The Buccaneers traded for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, signed free agents Vinny Curry (since released) 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 were just “okay” in 2018 with again six sacks and six tackles for losses.

It has been rumored that Tampa Bay and GM Jason Licht had been potentially trying to trade McCoy either at draft time or since, however, that never happened.

Tampa Bay is obviously taking a huge risk and is repeating a move that Licht and coach Lovie Smith made in their first season of 2014, when they released perennial Pro Bowl DB Darrelle Revis after just one season with him slated to make $16 million. Revis would not re-nogotiate his 2014 price tag, and the Bucs cut him to save money. Reavis took less money, but was named to the Pro Bowl, helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl, while the Bucs secondary floundered in a 2-14 season.

One team/situation that seems to immediately fit for McCoy would be in New Orleans for the Saints. That would be a division rival to pay back the Bucs for releasing him. And, it’s well known that McCoy spends his off seasons frequently working out in San Diego with QB Drew Brees, as they share the same trainer.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Winston overcome miscues to win third straight

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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It wasn’t easy and there were plenty of self-inflicted mistakes, but the Bucs found a way to come from behind, and defeat the Colts for a third consecutive victory Sunday.

Tampa Bay turned the ball over four times and found themselves trailing by double-figure twice, but QB Jameis Winston threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman with under four minutes to play and the Buccaneers defense held up to improve their record to 6 – 7.

On a day in which Winston threw for a career-high 456 yards, it actually started horribly This as, he threw an interception, once again, on the opening possession of the game. Darius Leonard’s pick  led to a Jacoby Brissett 48 yard touchdown to Marcus Williams and a quick 7-0 lead. It was the third time in five games that Winston has thrown an int on the first Bucs drive.

Winston threw another interception later in the second quarter that was returned by Leonard 80 yards for a score and the Colts led 24-14.

Undaunted, Winston continued to gun-sling finishing 456 yards passing for a career-high yardage and four touchdowns, including a second half score to reserve receiver Justin Watson. And then, he threw the eventual  game-winning 12 yarder to Perriman.

The Colts gave away two opportunities to potentially put the game away. First, when backup running back Nyheim Hines fumbled inside the Tampa Bay 20 with 10 minutes remaining, and then, later new rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin ,who replaced Adam Vinatieri who’s dealing with an injured knee, hit the right upright on 47 yard field goal that would have put in the Colts up by 7 late in the game.

Winston led the go-ahead drive from there, going 63 yards in eight plays and including converting a fourth down with a pass of 4 yards to Dare Ogunbawale. The touchdown to Perriman came on the very next play.

Tampa Bay stopped Brissett and the Colts on fourth down at midfiled with 1:45 remaining, when DE Jason Pierre Paul hit the QB’s arm. The ball fluttered in the air, Brissett caught it and then desperately and illegally tried to throw it a second time forward to another teammate. That pass was incomplete.

The Bucs ran out the clock for their second win at home this season.

The Buccaneers playoff hopes were all but dashed even in victory, though, as the Minnesota Vikings won their 9th game on Sunday. That means that even if the Buccaneers win out, they can no longer catch the Vikes in a head to head tiebreaker in the NFC race. Tampa Bay could benefit from a multi-team tie at 9-7, but likely not.

Still, first year Bruce Arians team is certainly playing hard, and at the right times with three games to go

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs looking for three in row leads our primer

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Week 14 of the NFL sees two Florida teams at home and the other one facing a familiar foe in New York. The Bucs try to make it three wins in a row hosting the Colts, the Dolphins travel to play the Jets and the Jaguars have gone back to their rookie QB, while hosting the Chargers.

First in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers come off of back-to-back road wins, where they accumulated 11 sacks and six turnovers defeating Atlanta and Jacksonville. They will take on another AFC South opponent in the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are stumbling with three losses in their last four games and have fallen out of the AFC Wildcard picture for the moment.

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has played better over the course of the last two games, but returns to Raymond James Stadium, where he threw four interceptions it a loss to the Saints three weeks ago. Winston is working with two of the premier receivers in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (above) who both have over a thousand yards this season and look to have a big day today.

The Colts have had success this season with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and want to run the ball against what is the best run defense in the NFL, the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay must win to keep slim playoff hopes alive trying to get into a 9 – 7 tiebreaker in the NFC Playoff Picture.

Next, the Dolphins come off a euphoric 37 – 31 win over the Eagles at home for their third win of the season. DeVante Parker had his best game as a Dolphin catching three touchdown passes. And, Miami scored on a trick play that saw punter Matt Haack throw a touchdown pass to kicker Jason Sanders. They now rematch AFC East rival the Jets who were humbled a week ago, as Cincinnati earned their first win of the season at their expense.

The Dolphins also defeated the Jets, and former coach Adam Gase, at home earlier this year

Finally in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have turned back to rookie QB Gardner Minshew. After three dismal offensive showings in a row under free agent Nick Foles, Minshew replaced him in the second half of last week. And, he sparked the Jaguars to a field goal and a touchdown in their 28 – 11 beat down by the Buccaneers.

The rookie did win four games in Foles’ absence due to his broken collarbone earlier this year. Fortunately for Jacksonville, the Chargers come in reeling having lost dramatically in Denver a week ago and questions are swirling whether it is the end of the tenure of Philip Rivers at quarterback.

Jacksonville’s defense is beaten up, including putting Myles Jack on injured reserve earlier this week with an injured kneed.

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