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Gerald McCoy’s deal is one of the worst in the NFL, says PFF

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Chicago Bears v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images

According to Pro Football Focus, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Gerald McCoy to one of the least team-friendly deals for interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Yes, you’re reading that correctly.

There’s always a risk to signing a player to the type of deal McCoy received, and there have been some reports that his work ethic left something to be desired last year (he’s denied said reports). Unfortunately, if the trend continues with McCoy, Tampa Bay has little in the way of flexibility regarding his contract until 2018; if they cut McCoy at any point before then, they are on the hook for at least $13.74 million in dead money. The new coaching staff in Tampa Bay will therefore need to work to get McCoy back to 2012–2014 levels in order to come close to receiving the top-three value his contract represents moving forward.

Ah yes, McCoy has one relatively down year due to injury, and the crows start coming out to pick his contract clean. Let’s be realistic here: McCoy was the top interior defender from 2012 through 2014, and he got a contract that reflected that performance — a perfectly reasonable contract that was immediately surpassed by Ndamukong Suh ($19 million per year, $60 million guaranteed) and now even Fletcher Cox ($17 million per year, $64 million guaranteed)McCoy’s contract was worth less than $16 million per year and carried just $15 million in initial guarantees, though that quickly ballooned to $53 million after one year.

Because it’s now two years later and extra guarantees have kicked in, the Bucs are committed to McCoy through the 2017 season. That’s not some massive burden, given that his contract runs through 2021 and they’ll be able to cut him at any point after 2017 with zero commitment — and given the fact that he’s earning just under $13 million the rest of the way, the Bucs are getting him for well below market value. There’s no real dead money on his contract, either: whereas Cox and Suh got massive signing bonuses, which means dead money throughout their contract, McCoy’s cap value won’t escalate if he’s cut.

So no, this is not one of the worst deals in the NFL for interior defensive linemen. It might turn into that if McCoy indeed never regains his form or something close to it, but even then his contract isn’t nearly as crippling as that of other, recent, top-of-the-line defensive linemen with a lesser track record of success. That contract won’t be a massive burden regardless of what happens, and PFF is simply wrong here.