The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are moving on from Gerald McCoy.
The team released the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, describing the move as a mutual agreement after nine seasons.
McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, was due to make $13 million next season, but none of it was guaranteed.
Coach Bruce Arians did not want to talk about the decision following one of the club’s OTA workouts Tuesday, saying he had wished McCoy well in a statement released by the Bucs, and that “there’s no need for answering questions about that.”
“We’ve already moved on,” the coach, preparing for his first season in Tampa Bay, said.
McCoy, 31, had six sacks and a team-leading 21 quarterback pressures in 2018, when the Bucs went 5-11 and missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. He has 54 1/2 sacks in 123 career games, was an All-Pro in 2013 and a Pro Bowl selection every year from 2012-17.
“These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally,” general manager Jason Licht said in the club statement late Monday. “Over the past nine years, Gerald has been a cornerstone of this franchise and a leader in our community. Parting ways with a player and person such as Gerald is one of the toughest responsibilities of this job.”
Even before releasing McCoy, the Buccaneers were going to have a decidedly different look on the defensive line in 2019.
In addition to making the transition from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the team will enter the season without end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was injured in an automobile accident this spring.
There’s speculation that the team is interested in signing free agent Ndamukong Suh as a replacement for McCoy, who was selected one spot behind Suh in the draft.
“I can’t talk about him. He’s not on my team,” Arians said of Suh, who played for the Los Angeles Rams last season.
Reminded that Suh is a free agent, the coach added: “He’s a hell of a player. We’ll see.”
When McCoy was selected to appear in the Pro Bowl in 2017, he joined Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, as well as Mike Alstott, as one of only five players in Bucs history to land at least six consecutive berths in the annual all-star game.
“I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here,” Arians said in the statement released Monday.
“You hate to see good football players go, but this is a decision that we felt needed to be made in order to allow us, and Gerald, the ability to move forward,” Arians added. “Gerald is a class act and I wish him the best.”
Offensive tackle Demar Dotson, who’s entering his 11th season with the Bucs, said McCoy will be missed.
“Gerald is a tremendous player and a tremendous person,” Dotson said.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s a business. When you’ve got a high salary and you start getting 30 years old, that’s just how the business is,” Dotson added. “One thing about Gerald. He can still play … He’s going to be playing somewhere.”