It was the 2010 NFL Draft, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were certain they had found a key defensive anchor for at least the next decade, so with their 3rd overall pick, the Buccaneers selected Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy out of Oklahoma.
In his rookie year, McCoy started in all 13 games that he played, and was able to record just 3 sacks, but he was able to add 12 hits on the quarterback and 27 combined tackles with 7 of those for a loss. This was while becoming only the 5th defensive rookie to start the opening game for the Buccaneers since 1995, and missing part of the season with a torn left bicep.
His second season was also cut short due to injury, but his third season proved to be the breakout the Bucs had hoped for as McCoy led them to the top rushing defense in the league and he was named to the Pro Bowl due to his solo performance which included 10 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and a fumble recovery.
In just the first 4 weeks of the 2013 season, McCoy had already registered 2 sacks and a fumble recovery on his way to a match up with the Atlanta Falcons where McCoy stole the show. When the clock ran out, McCoy had managed to tie the team record for single game sacks and wound up being named to the Pro Bowl for the 2nd straight year with stats that are impressive by any standard. McCoy was named the best Defensive Tackle in the NFL with 50 Total Tackles, 9 Sacks, 8 Tackles for a Loss, 4 Pass Deflections and a Fumble Recovery.
Gerald would go on to be named to the Pro Bowl 6 straight years, and has managed to put together 22 pass deflections, 6 forced fumbles, 54.5 sacks, almost 300 tackles, 79 tackles for loss, and 140 hits on opposing quarterbacks. It’s stats like these that made it an easy choice for the Buccaneers to re-sign McCoy when his contract came up, as they inked him to a 6 year deal worth more than $90 million dollars.
Along with all of his on-field accolades, Gerald McCoy has managed to become a fixture in the community, and has been especially generous when it came to various charities who reached out for his involvement and help. He launched his own foundation to assist low-income single parents, had been named the NFLPA Community MVP, and was even named the Buccaneers Walter Payton Man of the Year.
When you look at his accomplishments as a Buccaneer, and his work as a Man, you might ask yourself how the Buccaneers chose to reward him for his efforts, but for many, the reward is shocking. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and General Manager Jason Licht have decided that they simply don’t want to pay him what they agree to pay him, and instead have chosen to release him.
Some say it was a move to free up salary cap space, and some say it might have been due to his choice not to attend OTAs and even some have speculated that some of his wife’s comments on social media may have played a part, but at the end of the day, this was nothing but a slap in the face to a man that gave everything he had to not only the team but to the community.
General Manager Jason Licht just delivered what amounts to a slap in the face felt through the entire Bay area, and has proven to show potential free agents, that the team is not above simply choosing not to honor their commitments, no matter the player’s contributions on the field or their selfless dedication to the community.