TAMPA — The longer the Bucs’ awkward offseason with franchise fixture Gerald McCoy went on without a resolution, the more likely it seemed that the team would release the six-time Pro Bowler and free itself from the $13 million it pledged to pay him in 2019.
And on Monday evening, the team and McCoy officially parted ways — a move foreshadowed for months and maybe even years since McCoy signed a six-year extension during the 2014 season — the chapter on McCoy’s career as a Buccaneer flipped quickly.
The Bucs waited this long to release McCoy because they truly believed he had trade value, but general manager Jason Licht couldn’t find the right deal. Surely, the team would have also benefited from navigating McCoy’s landing spot, especially to prevent him from wreaking revenge against the Bucs twice a year playing for an NFL South rival.
ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick said the Bucs parting ways with McCoy could be a “win-win situation.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio found interest in the wording of the Bucs’ release.
“While McCoy might have wanted out,” Florio wrote, “his desire was coincidental to the outcome. The Bucs wanted to move on, and using a term like “mutual agreement to part ways” take some of the sting out of cutting one of the few bright (spots) the roster has had in the past decade.”
More from Florio:
Most of McCoy’s teammates remained mum on social media Monday night. Bucs inside linebacker Lavonte David wasn’t one of those people. He went through the cycle of emotions online on Twitter, initially posting an angry emoji, a tweet that was retweeted by receiver Mike Evans, shortly after the news and then circling back with another tweet.
How will McCoy’s nine seasons in Tampa Bay be remembered? Whether he met the expectations of a player drafted third overall in 2010 can be debated, but he offered consistency rarely seen from an in-the-trenches defensive position. His run on Pro Bowl appearances ended last season, but he has logged at least six sacks for six straight seasons, which is the league’s longest active streak among defensive tackles.
Then there’s the fact that no athlete has arguably done more for the Tampa Bay community this decade. And at the end of the season, McCoy pledged his devoted to the region, saying that he would continue his philanthropy work here even if he didn’t play here.
Shortly after the team formally announced McCoy’s release, it posted a video tribute to McCoy that touched on his off-the-field impact.
Today, McCoy becomes a free agent. While the Bucs determined he wasn’t a $13-million player, it’s not to say he’s no longer a valuable player elsewhere. And almost immediately after news of the release broke, McCoy became a trending topic on Twitter, with nearly every fan — and even some players — hoping that McCoy would join their team.
Included in that group was Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who made it pretty clear he wants McCoy to come to Cleveland, a team that was linked to McCoy in trade talks, with a comment on ESPN reporter Adam Schefter’s Instagram account.
OBJ wasn’t the only Browns player who took to social media to campaign. Receiver Jarvis Landry and defensive back Damarious Randall both made comments on the NFL’s Instagram post on McCoy’s release.
The stat gurus at Pro Football Focus agreed that McCoy should draw plenty of interested based on the consistency of his season grades. PFF’s Eric Eager pointed out that McCoy ninth among interior defenders in total WAR since entering the league in 2010, 14th since 2016 and 25th last year.
The Browns weren’t the only team quickly linked to McCoy. The Patriots, Colts and Cowboys quickly became quick potential suitors.
Cowboys 247sports.com reporter Mike Fisher said Dallas’ interest in McCoy is overblown.
ESPN reporter Field Yates made a strong argument for McCoy landing in Indianapolis
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.