Gerald McCoy seems to be preparing for change. Are the Bucs?

The Bucs six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle has a non-guaranteed salary of $13 million for 2019 and a new defense to learn if he remains in Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) greets fans before Tampa Bay's game against the Atlanta Falcons on December 30, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) greets fans before Tampa Bay's game against the Atlanta Falcons on December 30, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published January 24
Updated January 24

TAMPA — Gerald McCoy is preparing for change. At least that's what it sounds like on social media.

"Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face," McCoy tweeted Wednesday.

The change could be just to the scheme of the Bucs defense or to his address, nobody can say for sure.

McCoy, who turns 31 next month, has a base salary of $13 million for 2019 that is not guaranteed, meaning the Bucs would have no salary cap ramifications if they cut ties with their six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

RELATED: Podcast: Gerald McCoy's cryptic messages, Pro Bowl and more

The former No. 3 overall pick has played nine seasons, as many as Warren Sapp enjoyed in a Tampa Bay uniform before he signed with the Oakland Raiders.

Last season, McCoy was third on the team with six sacks and recorded 28 tackles, six for a loss, while leading the club with 21 quarterback hits.

But Tampa Bay selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round of the 2018 draft. While Vea suffered a calf injury the first day in pads at training camp and missed the next seven weeks, he finished the season strong with 20 tackles and three sacks in his final eight games.

New coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles are just beginning to review film of the 2018 season to familiarize themselves with the Bucs players.

So far, all they've said with respect to McCoy is that every player will be evaluated.

Bowles has been known to run both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts. McCoy could play in either or both and has made that clear on social media recently.

McCoy also seems to be bracing for change with other cryptic posts.

Reached by by telephone Wednesday, McCoy politely declined to elaborate on his tweets, saying it was the offseason and he was spending time with his family.

"Do you know something I don't know?" he asked.

Here's what we do know.  The Bucs haven't made a decision on McCoy's future.  At least, nothing is set in stone. Not good. Not bad. Just hasn't been addressed yet.

The Bucs really only have so many options, and frankly, it's hard to imagine Arians wouldn't want to keep one of the best players on the team with a win-now mentality.

So the Bucs can honor the contract and McCoy returns for a 10th season in Tampa Bay. They can ask him to take a salary cut, which McCoy could accept or opt to become a free agent. Or McCoy could decide to retire after a remarkable career that will end with him going into the team's Ring of Honor.

But whatever happens, it's clear McCoy is preparing for it.

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLStroud.

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