Bucs general manager Jason Licht and new head coach Bruce Arians appear to have some real commitment issues.

The two men atop the Bucs power structure at AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place seem to have a hard time committing to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy suiting up in red and pewter for a 10th year.

Could it be that they are trying to trade McCoy in the coming weeks, as they did with DeSean Jackson after suggesting at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Bucs wanted to keep him around this season too – only to ship him off to Philadelphia a week later for a sixth-round pick?

Sure seems like it.

When asked about McCoy’s future in Tampa Bay at the NFL Scouting Combine nearly a month ago, Licht and Arians spoke in generalities about the six-time Pro Bowler. They want McCoy, who is under contract through 2021, to come back, but the stop short in saying that definitively.

Bucs GM Jason Licht
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Scott Reynolds/PR

“It’s just hard to say that about any player right now,” Licht said. “It’s just we have so much between now and free agency, the draft, OTA’s, offseason, I can’t just say definitively on anyone. I can tell you he’s a great player, and ideally we would love to have him back.

“I can say ideally we want Gerald McCoy here. He’s under contract and I want him to be back.”

At the Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Owners Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday, Arians didn’t sound so sure

“He is on our team,” said Arians. “He plays three-technique and we have a three technique that penetrates. He did it as well – whenever that was –  four years ago … Would I like to see him more disruptive? Yeah. We can use him. If he is here, he is going to be used a bunch. It is just a matter of what happens.

“He is not as disruptive as he was four year ago, but he is still tough. He is still a good player. If he is there, he is there. He is our starting three-technique. There is no doubt about that.”

Guess who has the final say in McCoy playing for the Buccaneers in 2019?

Licht and Arians.

So why can’t they commit to McCoy?

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR

Licht and Arians can end all of this drama by coming right out and saying that McCoy, who has recorded six sacks in each of the last two years in Tampa Bay, will be a Buccaneer this season, lining up at the three-technique defensive tackle spot once again as he has for the last decade.

But they aren’t.

So what’s the hold up? It goes back to the premise that the Bucs are attempting to trade him.

It’s obvious that the Bucs are weighing their options with McCoy around two things – finding an eventual replacement and his $13 million base salary he’s due to make this year.

Tampa Bay doesn’t have an ideal replacement for McCoy on the roster right now unless the team wants to move Vita Vea, last year’s first-round pick, to three-tech and start Beau Allen at nose tackle. However, this year’s draft is flush with talent at defensive tackle from first-rounders like Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, Houston’s Ed Oliver, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins and Mississippi State’s Jeffrey Simmons to second-rounders like Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence and Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery to mid-rounders like Western Illinois’ Khalen Saunders, Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones and Texas A&M’s Daylon Mack and Kingsley Keke.

So unless the yet-to-be-revealed plan is to move Vea to three-tech, the Bucs can’t get rid of McCoy until they have found their replacement in the draft, which means that McCoy could be dealt on draft day or shortly thereafter if Tampa Bay chose to go that route. If the Bucs don’t get a player they feel could adequately replace McCoy from this year’s draft the team might hold on to him for another year.

If Tampa Bay got the right draft pick compensation before the draft, you might see Licht pull the trigger between now and April 25.

Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Gerald McCoy
Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

As it pertains to McCoy’s high salary – he’s the fourth-highest-paid Buccaneer this year behind quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Mike Evans and weakside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul – Tampa Bay is tight against the salary cap and could use having $13 million freed up to add another free agent or two at a position of need and have money to sign their draft picks this summer. The team will need over $7 million worth of cap space to accomplish that when the time comes.

“The financial is a big part of it,” Arians said. “I have got to evaluate him. [The] guy is up in age. It is different. Now it is usually the age where they get paid the most. And production and price don’t match. So we have to find that out. It is very hard because we can’t get in pads, but you can still see it. And you can still see his enthusiasm for the game.

“If he still has all that, then I am fine. As a coach, I coach who I got. I coach the guys that are there. Now if guys don’t show up, then don’t ask me about them. I ain’t talking about them. I talk about the guys that show up. We will see how that goes.”

If you recall, Arians and Licht said they wanted Jackson back in Tampa Bay this year, too.

What happened? It was all posturing, as Licht was working behind the scenes to trade Jackson and his $10 million salary to Philadelphia for a sixth-round pick.

This smells like posturing too, and no one should be shocked if McCoy winds up being traded within the next couple of months. There are currently seven teams with over $30 million in cap space, and a few of those teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, which have $74.5 million, could use a proven three-tech tackle who is still productive.

One thing is clear, the drama surrounding McCoy’s future in Tampa Bay is far from over.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

47 COMMENTS

  1. Not sure how anyone can be surprised by this, other than BA stating McCoy seems to be slowing down, which isn’t the best idea if you’re looking to trade him. Full disclosure isn’t always the best idea in certain situations. 🙂

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  2. Better to get rid of a player a year too soon than a year too late. I think they have a pretty good idea of what the plan is going forward. This makes sense, especially with a changing of the guard in coaches and scheme this year.

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  3. They might have waited a year to late trade him already. With so many DT’s in this years draft, last year would’ve been better.

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  4. McCoy seem to be channeling he thought 2018 might be his last as a Buc with some of his comments and tweets at the end of the year. May be right. Did find the “enthusiasm” comment by BA as interesting as well. Almost like they possibly saw less than full effort when they were reviewing film, though that may not be the case.

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  5. sureferdudes, no doubt .Belichek would have gotten rid of him las year when he still had some value.
    Of course Belichek would trade his mother if he felt she didn’t have any more good years left in her.
    I asked a few media types like Roy Cumming’s last year about trading McCoy and they all reacted in horror.

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  6. MCCOY EXCUSE CANNON : PREPARE TO FIRE!!!

    Just kidding. I love that the Bucs and BA may FINALLY be moving on from this teddy bear who hates tackling.

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  7. Perhaps the Jets would trade LB Darron Lee for McCoy.
    Seems like that would help both teams

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  8. They don’t have endless options either Brate or McCoy has to be trade. They have no cap space. Gholston should have been dumped by now. They can’t afford their draft picks. This draft is perfect to replace McCoy.

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  9. FlBoy84, other teams have eyes and coaches who can see, they all aren’t stumbling around blind and stupid.
    If Arians can see it, other coaches can too.

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  10. I totally agree his value was better 2 years ago. Unfortunately his contract had a mountain of dead money on it, so they were never going to trade him then. He should have been able to walk 4 years ago and the Bucs would have gotten Compensatory picks. Instead, Licht and Lovie extended him on a 7 year deal.

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  11. Erik Jaeger, I think Gholston has film of the Glazer boys hanging with Bob Kraft cruising local rub and tug joints.

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  12. @drdneast I think BA mentioning the fact that he’s slowing down is to let the fans know the value is apparent to anyone with eyeballs in the NFL community. Many casual fans still think McCoy is the best player the Bucs have.

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  13. Gholston is a solid veteran at $3.75 million. Next year that goes up to over $6 million though. This is the year to prove it for Gholston.

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  14. Gholston does have his moments, but don’t think his spot is secured just yet for this season.

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  15. We all know he isn’t worth $13 million..I really don’t see any team trading for him at all.

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  16. @wausa that’s wishful thinking my friend.

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  17. Thanks for letting me know “other teams have eyes and coaches who can see, they all aren’t stumbling around blind and stupid” drdn, don’t know how we’d all function without your amazing insight….

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  18. I think the bucs are going to end up holding onto McCoy until the draft at the very least..maybe they are wanting to see what players they bring in from the draft first before cutting ties with him to make sure they have a replacement.

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  19. He needs to go and they are posturing right now. Trying see what can get etc or possibly see if he will restructure. He’s just not worth 13 million year. I trust Arians and crew will figure it out. He’s Pretty Good still, but not great DT. I think he lacks intense fire to win. Not saying he’s lazy or anything he just doesn’t seem to have that burning desire to win to me. Or another way to put it to me he doesn’t hate losing eonough. Lol.

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  20. I wouldn’t plan on the Bucs trading McCoy. No suckers available.

    McCoy has never had double digit sacks. EVER. He is now 31. He is owed $38 million over the next 3 years. He has really bad tape the last 2 years. Quite simply and quite obviously…he does not make plays when they are right in front of him. Same with missing tackles.

    The Bucs will eventually cut him and some team might sign McCoy to a 1 year deal worth $4-5 million.

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  21. Agree big sombrero McCoy is slowing down to anyone with eyes except Bucassboob. Lol.

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  22. I am pretty certain PR hopes they hold on to GMC until after the draft or maybe even until just before training camp. Why?

    Click-Bait City!!! The site traffic numbers swell everytime they mention Licht and Arians discussing GMC’s future!

    Lol.

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  23. Almost think McCoy would be wise to take a $6-8M offer by the team rather than hit free agency late, considering the DT depth of this draft class and Suh still sitting on the market as well. Seems like reasonable $$ considering….

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  24. Scott a little brevity is a good thing. These articles except for Mark Cook are written for Lawyers. It takes too long for you to get to the point.

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  25. Obviously McCoy is still a good player. But the cap is the cap. At 13million he’s really expensive. Asking him to take a pay cut might not go over well? I want him to retire as a Buc, but I also think he deserves to go to a team that has a chance of making the superbowl this year. He’s been busting his ass for this franchise for 10 years, and hasn’t sniffed the playoffs. Whatever happens I hope he does well.

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  26. If they were looking for a trade, I don’t see why they would be saying anything negative about him – “not as disruptive as he used to be”. They’d be saying he hasn’t lost a step.

    Sounds to me more like they want him to take a pay cut, which seems reasonable. I’m not sure McCoy would want to move his family and play for another team. A pay cut sounds like a win/win for both team and player.

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  27. Very interesting turn of events. Draft night is going to answer a lot of these questions IMO.

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  28. I may be mistaken but we are already on the hook for Brates 7 million this year after the 17th of March, I know the D tackle is a deep position in this years draft and a position of need. Trade McCoy to the Jets for LB Lee, saves 11 million in cap space. Trade back in the draft to regain the 3rd we used for JPP if possible. If either Allen or Williams is there at 5 scoop them up! Going to be an interesting 30 days until the draft

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  29. Can you casual fans stop talking about a McCoy trade to the Jets for Lee? That is not going to happen lmao.

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  30. Sorry if I hurt your feelings BucRy, but I was just responding to what you wrote. You made it sound like Arians was letting the cat out of the bag. LOL.

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  31. @BucRy Regarding Lee, stranger things have happened. I agree any player-for-player trade is a LOOOOONG shot, but if the Bucs can get ANY value for McCoy from any team, I will be happy.

    NO RESTRUCTURES. Restructuring means more guaranteed years AND playing time at the cost of playing time for better, younger players. His indifference to winning or losing is pathetic. JPP called him out last year about leaders on the D Line being accountable. It is time to move on from McCoy.

    Anyone on here that says McCoy is still good hasn’t been watching him specifically.

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  32. @drdneast no feelings hurt my friend!

    @bucwild02 id be happy to get any draft pick for McCoy at this point.

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  33. I was also surprised by the enthusiasm comment. i think McCoy has played is last down as a Buc. You can see the handwriting on the wall. They see what we all see. An aging Vet who’s best years are behind him and paid way to much.

    Also I have said it before McCoy has accepted losing. He’s been around it to much and instead of breaking the cycle he just jointed in. To me that’s the most damming part it. We need winners i have seen enough losing for a lifetime.

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  34. Why would any of those teams with $30+ million in cap space make a trade for McCoy when they simply have to wait for him to be cut for salary cap reasons and get him on the cheap? The trade scenario makes no sense to me, Scott.

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  35. BigSombrero Mar. 26, 2019 at 1:39 pm
    @drdneast I think BA mentioning the fact that he’s slowing down is to let the fans know the value is apparent to anyone with eyeballs in the NFL community. Many casual fans still think McCoy is the best player the Bucs have.

    No, I think BA mentioned it to get McCoy thinking of taking a pay cut for the team before the draft instead of taking the risk that his value falls below whatever Licht’s asking for at this point. If all 7 of those teams with $30+ million in cap space draft rock solid DTs, McCoy’s value goes down considerably. I think the ball is actually in McCoy’s court at the moment.

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  36. BA isn’t an idiot. His comment don’t help a trade. He thinks he has value and is firing his ass up. If he’s wrong then he’ll cut his losses, but I think he wants him to stay, get fired up, and give the team what it needs in a 3 tech. There’s not a better option out there. Unless they don’t get the OLB they want at 5, and the best player available is a 3 tech, I think he stays.

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  37. FLBoy84
    “Not sure how anyone can be surprised by this, other than BA stating McCoy seems to be slowing down, which isn’t the best idea if you’re looking to trade him. Full disclosure isn’t always the best idea in certain situations.”

    Maybe that message was meant for McCoy, letting him know he’s better off taking a smaller pay cut in Tampa instead of waiting until after the draft and risking a larger pay cut when the team releases him for cap purposes. With a draft this deep in DT talent, that’s exactly what could happen to McCoy if he refuses to take a pay cut now.

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  38. I think they’re trying to get him to restructure his deal and the DA said he coaches the players that are there who show up maybe they think he won’t show up if they ask him to restructure

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  39. Agree EricNV that it could be aimed at McCoy. Think it’s entirely possible that the rhetoric this entire off-season from BA and Licht when asked about GMC could be subtle references to him and his team that him playing for the Bucs at $13M isn’t happening. Interested to see how it plays out. Only reason a team trades for him is if they want to insure they get him. If he goes to market, there’s no guarantee where he signs. Seems pretty certain he isn’t getting close to $13M anywhere considering the circumstances though.

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  40. @Erik Jager, dude, Brate’s $7M is fully guaranteed. There is no moving him to save cap space, he is on the books in Sharpie since 12:01 am, Mar 17. I believe it was you who posted something about cutting/trading him on another thread. I’ll say it again, in hopes this way makes more sense to you….. DEAD. CAP. SPACE. Cam is going nowhere this offseason, probably not next offseason, maybe not the following offseason. He will more than likely be here through OJ Howard’s option year.

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  41. He is a top5 DT in the league so his pay is right on par. I could see NE, Jets, Raiders ,or Indy making a trade for him. TBH I dunno why they dont just ask him to restructure and keep him. That way we can draft a Pass rusher @5, a RG in the 2nd and a DT in the 3rd.

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  42. Now, that is what I call a good article, Scott, because it stimulated a whole bunch of good discussion.

    I am going to reread the entire thing over again, including any new comments later today or tomorrow.
    __________
    Go Bucs!!!!!!

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  43. I don’t remember a TB coach who put a player on blast like this, this quickly. If they are trying to trade him, boy is that stupid. If not, I appreciate the honesty and motivation (even if it’s through the press) by calling him out for declining production.

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  44. I doubt any potential trade partner is relying on words spoken by Bruce, Jason or for that matter, Big Sombrero, on which to base their evaluation of Gerald McCoy. They’ll watch the tape of last season and perhaps earlier. What they will see is a player who is less disruptive, who rarely makes a significant play and who was a key member of the 31st ranked Defense. Obviously that $13 million dollar salary will likely be a real obstacle.

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  45. You McCoy lovers are overthinking it. There is no hidden message for McCoy that Arians is making through the media by saying he’s slowing down. That is NOT HIS STYLE. He is calling it the way he sees it, which is very likely the way everyone else is seeing it too. McCoys trade value does not hinge on comments. It hinges on tape.

    His effort IS slowing down. His ability IS slowing down.

    Also, anyone that thinks this will motivate McCoy is flat bananas. McCoy is INDIFFERENT. Like he’s suddenly going to FLIP A SWITCH?????? If that is the case and he’s been holding back, waiting to flip some magic switch, he’s even worse than Im making him out to be.

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  46. I think it’s best for all just to let Gerald go and I wish him the best. He’s going to have an attitude about being forced to take less to play with the Bucs and will accept it better if you goes to another team for less pay. When fat man Penn went to the Raiders, he had a whole different attitude and got in shape to prove a point.

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  47. i Am not sure what a casual fan is, but I have been a fan since Steve Spurrier was the QB. Gerald McCoy has been a Buc for 10 years and has been a good player for us and there is no need to put him down just because he’s getting a little older. 6 straight pro bowls, 54.5 unassisted sacks, 77 assists, and cant even tell ya how many hurries he caused. If we are going to trade him then lets trade him, if not then cut him so he can sign on with another team.

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