In a move that has been coming for months, the Buccaneers have parted ways with nine-year veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler. McCoy was set to make $13 million in 2019 and the salary cap-strapped Bucs needed the cap room to sign first-round draft pick Devin White and make a few other roster moves prior to the start of the regular season.
But this roster move wasn’t just about creating cap space. Tampa Bay could have restructured the deal of wide receiver Mike Evans or guard Ali Marpet instead.
This was also about parting ways with McCoy, a former team captain up until last year, and paving the way for White to become the face of the Bucs defense.
Additionally, this move is also about pursuing free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, too. If the Bucs were going to spend north of $10 million on a three-technique defensive tackle, it seems as if the team would prefer it be on Suh rather than McCoy. Suh made $14 million with the Los Angeles Rams last year, but has remained unsigned this offseason.
McCoy has come under fire for some in the Bucs fan base for his nice guy image, but Suh has the opposite reputation, having racked up more than $400,000 in fines and suspensions for his overly aggressively style of play. If the Bucs pursue Suh, as expected, this move is about an attitude adjustment on defense as much as anything because both defensive tackles have had a similar amount of success in their careers, although McCoy has never helped the Bucs make the playoffs and has only played on two winning teams (2010, 2017) in Tampa Bay.
Suh spent last season with the Rams, helping them make the Super Bowl. Suh had 59 tackles, four tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last year with L.A., in addition to four passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.
Suh, whom the Bucs wanted to draft over McCoy in the 2010 NFL Draft, was drafted second overall by Detroit with McCoy going third overall to Tampa Bay. On the heels of winning the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award with the Cornhuskers, Suh was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.
Suh spent five years with the Lions, recording 241 tackles, 66 tackles for loss, 36 sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery for a touchdown before spending three years in Miami. With the Dolphins, Suh notched 181 tackles, 37 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Suh has 56 sacks in his nine-year NFL career, compared to 54.5 for McCoy. Suh is 32 years old, whereas McCoy turned 31 in February.
A five-time Pro Bowler (2010, 2012-14, 2016), Suh was also a three-time first-team All-Pro (2010, 2013, 2014) and a second-team All-Pro (2012, 2016).
Suh is one of the most durable players in the NFL, averaging 935 snaps per season, including the playoffs, according to Pro Football Focus. He has only missed two games in his NFL career and has had at least 40 QB pressures every year since 2010. Suh had his lowest-graded season as a pass rusher in 2018 but played alongside the NFL’s leading sacker Aaron Donald and still managed 57 QB pressures.
Suh, was ranked as the 20th-ranked interior defensive lineman last year with an 82.6 grade just one season after posting a career-high 85.6 grade with Miami in 2017. McCoy had a 78.6 grade from PFF last year and finished with 38 pressures (20 hurries, 12 hits and six sacks) on 426 pass rush snaps.