On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. The move takes his full $13 million cap hit off the books, as the team will not incur any dead cap. McCoy’s release will end his nine-year run with the franchise.
McCoy is a six-time pro-bowler and made the All-Pro team after tallying 9.5 sacks in 2013. For his career, the 31-year-old racked up 54.5 sacks, third-most in Buccaneers franchise history. He’s also totaled 140 quarterback hits in his career, including 21 last season, tied for his second-best mark.
As a free agent, McCoy is going to be highly sought-after. He still performs at a good level and will bring plenty of leadership and experience to any team’s defensive unit. Several teams such as the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers not only have a need for McCoy’s presence, but also plenty of cap space to acquire him.
The move isn’t totally surprising as the Buccaneers have been in a gradual decline over the last several seasons. Along with McCoy, Tampa Bay also lost star linebacker Kwon Alexander and the defense is starting to look like a shell of itself. In his place, expect second-year defensive lineman Vita Vea to take on a bigger role in 2019.
Vea was the 12th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after a strong career at the University of Washington. He played in 13 games (starting eight of those) and notched three sacks and 28 combined tackles. He dealt with injuries throughout the preseason and missed the team’s first three regular-season contests.
It won’t be easy to replace McCoy, both on the field and in the locker room. Tampa Bay will be missing one of the franchise’s best players and a great veteran presence. While Vea obviously has the potential to fill that gap, the 2019 Buccaneers have almost no expectations to win.