Gerald McCoy didn’t ask for this. Never once did he plan on saying goodbye to his second family. Establishing a new life down in the Sunshine State, the former number three overall pick had been a staple of his franchise since being drafted out of Oklahoma in 2010.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had other plans.
Rumors began to fly in January that McCoy would be on the chopping block with the arrival of new head coach Bruce Arians. It did make some sense when looking at it on paper. Arians had been accustomed to running a 3-4 defense since his days in Arizona. The 31-year-old defensive tackle spent his career in a 4-3 base unit. With the addition of Todd Bowles returning under Arians regime, the writing was on the wall.
Once McCoy missed a majority of the offseason workouts, it seemed to be a done deal. Arians played it cool, electing to dismiss questions on the star defensive tackle in favor of players who were in the building.
“I’ve gotta evaluate him,” Arians said on McCoy during the offseason. “Guy’s up there in age, it’s different. It’s usually the age when they’re getting paid the most, and production and [pay] don’t match. So we’ve gotta find that out.
There was also a contract dispute. Expected to make $13 million in 2019, Tampa’s general manager Jason Licht wanted his longest-tenured player to take a pay-cut. McCoy didn’t budge on the offer.
You all know the rest. McCoy was released, thanked for his contributions and sent on his way. It seemed to be a mutual parting at the time.
Come Week 2 of the upcoming NFL season, McCoy certainly will have a different attitude towards his former team.
Let the trolling begin
McCoy became the hottest free agent to join the market following his release. While he waited for the proper deal, his former franchise found his replacement.
Who was it you might ask? Well, just the player drafted one spot before him.
The Buccaneers wasted little time fixing their interior defensive line by signing defensive tackle Ndamokung Suh to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million. Suh most recently spent a season transitioning to a 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips with the Los Angeles Rams.
When asked about the recent signing, Arians stated that McCoy no longer seemed to fit the vision the veteran coach had in place for his new team.
“It just wasn’t a fit,” Arians said. “Whether it was financial, whatever, on the field, you know, it just didn’t fit.”
“You go back to Franco Harris not being a Steeler; this has happened for a long, long time.”
Although Arians was perhaps right on the scheme, the contract offered little reason to believe the words flying out of his mouth. Suh, 32, will make only $3 million less than the All-Pro defensive tackle. Also, Arians stated in an interview with Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that McCoy could be an excellent fit in Bowles defense.
Still, McCoy focused on looking for a new home and didn’t worry about the past. After taking visits with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, money became the biggest obstacle in the way of signing name to paper.
Then Monday morning, this appeared across the Buccaneers’ twitter feed.
While the Browns could offer him a chance at a championship and the Ravens could offer him a contract, only the Carolina Panthers could offer him something much more worth his while – revenge.
Within two hours of the post, McCoy signed a one-year deal to play with the NFC South rival.
The troll the NFL deserves
McCoy’s signing to the Panthers comes at a shock to some but little to others. While Carolina had much more pressing needs than to add to their vigorous front seven, McCoy will pair with Kawaan Short over Vernon Butler.
The signing has to come with some spite added after the Bucs’ poked the bear by giving away his number to a rental player. Suh is not going to be a part of the Buccaneers rebuild while McCoy was a staple down in The Big Guava.
And less than a week following his release, someone else is wearing his number? Yeah, this is about revenge.
“Carolina was a great fit for me,” McCoy said. “Being around the guys we just meshed & I love the instant chemistry we had. They have a tradition of having a great defense. I love the players & I believe in #1. Ron Rivera is a proven coach & can’t wait to get started.”
Sure, his statement might be accurate. But the text sent to Stroud should be the only inclination we need.
McCoy texted me “See you Week 2!!”
You may not hear McCoy say it, but the chance to play Tampa Bay twice…to say nothing of the #Bucs giving away his No. 93 to Ndamukong Suh, may have tipped the scales in the Panthers’ favor.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) June 3, 2019
McCoy took significantly less money to join the Buccaneers according to multiple reports. He also wanted to stay in the south, making Carolina a wise personal move.
Look, it’s silly to argue about a player’s jersey number. Except for those destined for Canton, they are replaced all the time. McCoy, however, isn’t just a player down in Tampa. Only eight players have made the Pro Bowl at least five times in their career in Tampa history.
McCoy is the latest while three of those numbers are hanging in Raymond James Stadium.
McCoy gets the last laugh
In what can only feel like a slap in the face, Gerald McCoy rebutted quickly. Instead of moving on with fond memories, the Bucs have now burned a hole in the scrapbook of the 2010s. While McCoy may never be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, he certainly did enough to put a hold on his number.
The term trolling describes a person who creates quarrels behind a computer screen. This time, however, Tampa trolled McCoy by issuing his number away to a player known for his polar opposite attitude.
McCoy clapped back by signing with a rival organization, guaranteeing they’ll meet on the gridiron twice this season.
The Panthers are not a Super Bowl caliber organization heading into the upcoming season, but they are better than Tampa by a substantial amount.
McCoy could have signed anywhere and taken a decent haul in the process. Instead, he’ll get the last laugh as he looks to amend the wrongs performed by his former team.
We’ve reached real life trolling in the NFL people, and I’m all here for it.