The off-field soap opera involving Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had another chapter on Monday. And even though it was “April Fool’s Day,” it doesn’t appear that McCoy was fooling around, when he stayed away from the team’s first voluntary workout under its new coaching staff.
Under NFL rules, teams with first-year head coaches could begin their voluntary work with the start of the new month. So coach Bruce Arians and staff took advantage of the opportunity to have interaction with the players in what is a “very scaled-back” setting. That is to say, non-contact practicing and more about conditioning and learning the new systems on offense and defense
As for the nine-year veteran McCoy, there has been great debate about whether the Buccaneers would allow him to make his non-guaranteed $13 million salary in 2019. Or, if they would instead try to reduce his salary through negotiation and or trade or release him if that negotiation did not go well?
Then, as wrote about at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix early last week, Arians did something for the first time in this saga. He spoke out publicly that McCoy, while still good, is not the player that he once was and used the phrase, “if he still here,” involving the former number one pick.
The Tampa Bay media, the internet, etc. (including us) picked up on that, immediately. The fact that Arians was either hinting that the Buccaneers were looking to release or trade McCoy, or at least he was concerned that McCoy might not be around for workouts on his own decision was/is newsworthy.
And Arians and GM Jason Licht, were not made available to the media on Monday, and therefore, made no further comments about McCoy’s absence. So, everyone is left draw their own conclusions, for now, as to why?
It’s important to note a several more things:
One, these are not mandatory workouts and other players have skipped these workouts frequently, not only for the Bucs, but around the NFL.
An example would be, that new Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was acquired in a trade last March from the Giants, did not attend Buccaneer voluntary workouts last offseason. Yet, he had one of the best years for a Bucs defensive lineman in over a decade that included 12.5 sacks in 2018.
A second point is: that McCoy is under contract and it’s a lucrative one. And while it is not guaranteed, he is not likely at this stage of free agency/the league year to get a deal with any other team besides Tampa Bay that will pay him $13 million in 2019.
Sure, if the Bucs were to release him or trade him, he could negotiate with that new team and probably end up with significant guaranteed money over the course of a new deal. But, for now, it’s a great salary for this season for the player.
Finally, another key point: no one knows for sure what the Glazer family, who owns the Buccaneers have decided to do with the very popular McCoy? This is in large part because the owners know McCoy has had to endure four different head coaches (all now fired by the Glazers) and six different defensive coordinators during his nine seasons in Tampa Bay. He is a very popular player with great community involvement with the team.
And seven of his nine seasons for McCoy (and the Glazers) have been losing ones, and four of those have been under Licht.
So, it’s a conversation piece, for now.
McCoy, who’s been quiet on social media for the past few days, will either makes comments, appear back at the Buccaneers facility, or we will be left to speculate on his status.
And finally, until either Licht or Arians makes the team’s stance clear that they want McCoy part of the defense in 2019, then we are also left to wonder whether his release or a possible trade around the draft is imminent.
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