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In new role, LeSean McCoy says future is ‘up in the air’

The veteran, who has seen his role reduced in his age-32 season, is unsure what’s ahead.

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In the week since the Buccaneers took down the Packers to earn a spot in Super Bowl LV, both Bruce Arians and Tom Brady have answered questions about the idea of retiring.

Arians quickly put those thoughts to rest and said he is all in on coming back next year even if Tampa Bay wins the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday. He said he’d want to go back-to-back, of course. Brady, who no one believed would retire after this weekend anyway, was asked about playing past the age of 45. The 43-year-old said he’s definitely considering doing so.

Running back LeSean McCoy’s future is a little more uncertain. The 32-year-old veteran said so himself. Asked Tuesday about what lies ahead for his football future, he had this to say:

“I’m always thinking about this all the time – especially now – just how my career has been from being a guy and a franchise player, to now being older and asked to do different things for my role. You look at the winning – if I can help the young guys out and we’re winning and I’m back in a championship game and the Super Bowl – things like that make it hard to make a decision to call it quits. I always ask myself that. Then, the other part is that I’m sure I can go to any team, be the second or third back and I think about that – playing longer. It’s a hard question. I talk to Frank Gore a lot – he’s one of my guys who I talk to about different things like that. It’s up in the air. If I get two championships with all my resume, it might be over. But you never know, so I think I’ll just take it every day and I’ll revisit that when the time presents itself.”

McCoy has obviously been around the block a time or two. In his time with the Eagles and Bills, he was an extremely productive lead back, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark six times. But his most recent 1,000-yard season came in 2017 with Buffalo and ever since, he’s been on a bit of a decline. He managed just 514 yards on 131 carries in 2018 before taking on a smaller role with the Chiefs during their Super Bowl season last year. He posted 465 yards and four touchdowns on 101 carries for Kansas City, but was left inactive for most of the team’s postseason run. Then, despite being the leading rusher of the 2010s, he was unsigned throughout the 2020 offseason before joining Tampa Bay in August.

McCoy was always going to be a bit of a role guy for the Bucs, but the signing of Leonard Fournette made that role even smaller. After Tampa Bay added the former Jaguar to the running back room just before the regular season, McCoy said he saw the writing on the wall. However, he made it clear that he’s been happy to accept his current role as a veteran voice for the younger running backs:

“...Then as I got here, my role was different. In the beginning, I was going to be the guy – the backup guy. Do the passing [plays], third downs and be the backup to ‘RoJo’ (Ronald Jones II). Then, [Leonard] Fournette got released and he came here and I knew the writing on the wall. You pay him the big bucks, he’s a big name, he’s young, he’s still very, very talented. He started playing and my role changed. Me just being a veteran, at this point I want to win. Everybody knows the things I’ve done and I want to be able to still affect the game. They look at me now as insurance. If one of the guys gets banged up or they need a blow, they can count on me to go in there, replace them and not miss a beat. That’s cool with me because I love those guys. They always give me all these stories about how they’ve been playing the video games with me when they were in high school, watching my tapes and the highlights, so it all works together and I get joy out of that. I get joy out of helping them out. The role has changed for me, but the goal hasn’t. The goal is to win a championship [and] I want to be a part of that. Any way that I can affect the game, helping the guys in my room, getting with Tom [Brady] and he’ll come to me to teach them this or help them understand that. I do it with no hesitation. That’s the role and I accept it…”

McCoy only got 10 carries and 19 targets in the regular season, but only good things have been said about his attitude. Of course, playing this current role has him in position to potentially earn his second consecutive Super Bowl ring. And, diminished on-field role aside, being a part of two different Super Bowl teams in your final two years would seem to be a pretty satisfying way to ride off into the sunset.

We’ll see what the future holds for McCoy in the aftermath of Sunday’s game... Whatever happens, it’s been quite the career for the 2009 second-round pick.