Easily one of the most polarizing figures in Tampa Bay over the last decade, Gerald McCoy has his fans, his critics, and his haters. Regardless of which group you fell into, we always knew that McCoy was going to be here. Love him, hate him, whatever - he was here. One of the fastest get-offs in the league and one of the most prominent figures in the community, Gerald was always here.
Then, the questions began.
Will he fit in a 3-4? At his age, is he worth the $13-million he’s owed? Is he too old? This is a business - would they cut him based on a business decision to save cap space?
All of that has been answered. Gerald McCoy is returning to the Buccaneers. The only team he’s ever known. No matter how awful things have been in his time, no matter how many sub-par teammates he’s had, this has been home. His team. His face on billboards, cups, his jerseys peppered all through Raymond James Stadium. And it will stay that way.
And you know what - he deserves that shot.
So many people are excited about what Bruce Arians and his staff could do for this franchise. That they could finally be the coaching staff with enough experience and intelligence to get this ship turned around and on the right course.
Finally, McCoy might be part of something he’s worked so hard to enjoy - a postseason berth.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles believes McCoy’s skill set will fit just fine in a 3-4 scheme and McCoy will be part of that. Whether or not he restructures his deal or rearranges some money to give the Bucs a little more cap flexibility is another story entirely, but the fact that they will keep him speaks volumes.
It doesn’t matter if you like him or not. There is no denying he’s been a productive member of this team - at times, the only one - for the last nine seasons. With nearly 300 tackles, 54.5 sacks - including six or more for six straight seasons - and 79 tackles for loss, there is always room on a defense for a playmaker, a leader, and someone with the desire to win. McCoy fits all those criteria.
Even pending free agents that many fans are clamoring for were praising the news;
Who knows? Maybe this is something that will help nudge the honey badger towards Tampa if he was on the fence to begin with.
I don’t want to hear any of that “but, he never got the Bucs to the playoffs” nonsense, either. Go back and look at some of the teams McCoy was stuck with. 85% of those rosters had no business being on an NFL team, let alone starting. The guy couldn’t do it alone. Now, is he as impactful now as he was during those prime years? Of course not - but he does finally have some help. A shift in alignment can also lead to some interesting opportunities for himself as well as his rush-mates Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and Vita Vea.
Ultimately - outside of Demar Dotson - no one has been with this team longer, put up with more crap, dealt with as many ridiculous coaches (looking at you, Schiano), or done as much to get so little than Gerald McCoy. You don’t have to love the decision to keep him, but there’s no questioning that McCoy has earned every ounce of success this team sees with the new regime.