Bucs coach Smith says extending McCoy's contract is a priority
Extending the contract of All Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a priority, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday.
McCoy, who led the Bucs with 9.5 sacks and was named to his second straight Pro Bowl, is in the final season of the 5-year, $55-million contract he signed as a rookie in 2010.
“That is definitely a priority,'' Smith said at the NFL owner's meetings Wednesday. "He’s a guy we definitely want around for awhile to say the least.
“I think it’s very important. In an ideal situation, you do a great job of drafting players and then you reward your players who have come up through the system and done it the right way.''
McCoy, who was the third overall pick in 2010 from Oklahoma, struggled with injuries his first two NFL seasons. But has been among the league's most dominant defensive tackles the past two years, posting 14.5 sacks and 80 tackles while earning back-to-back Pro Bowl selections.
Smith called McCoy "as good of an interior defensive lineman as there is in the game.''
“The first guy to contact me when I was sitting in my basement down there in Chicago was Gerald McCoy and said, “I can’t wait to get started,''' Smith said. "But I followed him at the University of Oklahoma, his career that he had here. For our defense, Warren (Sapp) would tell you it’s just him we’re looking for, but I think it’s the position, also. You need a special player at that position is that. Again, we hit it. The guys who drafted him did a great job. You know what he’s done in the community. I know coming in right now he’s going to be one of our leaders. Gerald was popping up on the phone quite a bit or texting me, “who else are we getting.’ He’s excited about what we’re doing and about his new teammates.''
Complicating matters for McCoy is that Lions' defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was picked one spot ahead of him in the 2010 draft by the Lions, also wants to negotiate a contract extension. Estimates are that Suh's deal could be worth around $75-million.
McCoy is scheduled to earn a base salary of more than $12.7-million this season and his salary cap number is in excess of $15.6-million.