The Buccaneers front office want to lock up Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a new deal as the team's leading pass rusher is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik reached out to McCoy's agent late last year but no progress was made.
When Lovie Smith coached linebackers for Tony Dungy back during the glory days of the Buccaneers run of Top 10 defenses, he witnessed Warren Sapp being the main cog in making the engine run, and propelling Tampa Bay to a series of playoff runs, culminating in the franchise’s only Lombardi Trophy following the 2002 season.
Now as the Buccaneers head coach himself, Smith knows locking up Gerald McCoy – his version of Sapp – has to be a priority. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers have again made overtures to McCoy’s agent, Ben Dogra, on getting a new contract done. McCoy is in the final year of his initial rookie contract and will earn approximately $13.2 million in 2014.
Reports say there is no specific timetable, but getting a new long-term deal in place before the start of the season would be ideal for the Buccaneers and most likely McCoy himself, who wouldn’t have to answer distracting questions about wanting a new contract once the season starts.
McCoy made it clear back in April that a lack of a contract will not result in him holding out this year.
"When they say report to camp, Gerald McCoy will be there regardless of what happens," McCoy said to reporters last month.
This isn’t the first time the Buccaneers reached out to representatives for McCoy. PewterReport.com's Scott Reynolds reported in his SR's Fab 5 on March 28
that the former regime tried to lock up McCoy late last year.
“Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik tried in vain to extend McCoy last December after Cincinnati Pro Bowler, Geno Atkins, who is generally regarded as the league’s best three-technique tackle, signed a five-year, $54.755-million extension. Atkins’ deal averages just under $11 million per season and includes a $15 million signing bonus. That deal averages less per year than McCoy or Suh will make in 2014, and that’s why Dominik pursued it, but McCoy’s agents weren’t ready.”
At the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando in March, Smith talked about the importance of drafting, developing and then re-signing key players such as McCoy.
“I think it’s very important,” Smith said at the NFL Owners Meeting on Wednesday. “In an ideal situation, you do a great job of drafting players and then you reward your players that have come up through the system and done it the right way. The first guy to contact me when I was sitting in my basement down there in Chicago was Gerald McCoy. [He said], ‘I can’t wait to get started.’ I followed him at the University of Oklahoma, his career that he had here, and for our defense, and there’s a reason why.
“Warren will tell you it was just him, but it’s a position also where you need a special player and Gerald McCoy is that. The guys who drafted him did a great job. You know what he’s done in the community. I know right now coming in he’s going to be one of our leaders. Through free agency, [he said] ‘What can I do?’ Gerald was popping up on the phone quite a bit, texting me, excited about who we’re getting, what we’re doing with his new teammates. So yes, that is definitely a priority. He’s a guy that we definitely want around for a while, to say the least.”
While getting a deal done is most likely a priority from Tampa Bay’s perspective, the team could always place the franchise tag on McCoy after this season if a deal isn’t reached before then. The 2014 franchise tag value for defensive tackles currently sits at $9.654 million.
McCoy saw his first two seasons plagued by injuries as the former All-American from Oklahoma fell victim to biceps tears in both arms. Through his first two seasons McCoy managed to play in just 19 games, collecting 39 tackles and four sacks. In his last two seasons, McCoy started all 32 games and has notched 80 tackles and 14.5 sacks, including a 9.5-sack effort in 2013. McCoy has made the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons, and was named All-Pro for the first time after the 2013 season.
Along with the production on the field, McCoy had earned the distinction of being named a team captain and had become one of the team’s most vocal and respected leaders.
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