“He’s not as disruptive as he was four years ago, but he’s still a good player.”
That was what Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians had to say about defensive tackle Gerald McCoy this offseason. He told ESPN that he needed to “evaluate” him, and that McCoy was at the age where “production and (pay) don’t match.”
On Monday, McCoy was released from the team, and he’ll end his career with the Buccaneers with zero playoff appearances and only two seasons with a winning record.
Four-time All-Pro. Six-time Pro Bowler. Zero team success.
There’s an inherent problem in the way Arians spoke of McCoy to the media. To some, Arians’ words could be interpreted as merely speaking the truth. McCoy certainly hasn’t been as productive as he once was -- ever since his 9.5-sack season in 2013, that number has declined -- and his 13 million dollar price tag doesn’t reflect well on those numbers.
To the people that matter, though — the players in the locker room and the coaches — it could be a precedent for the future.
To question McCoy’s work ethic and on-field presence does little to give justice to the career of the third-overall pick, and there were those in Tampa who expressed their anger at the decision to release him.
“You tweeting me talking (about) how good this situation is very very [sic] irrelevant,” Tampa middle linebacker Lavonte David tweeted, after tweeting out an angry emoji a few minutes earlier. “I’m literally the last person you should try to convince!”
McCoy was notorious for being vocal about his detractors, even going as far as to rant on an Instagram story and to assure his critics that he is “an All-Pro on and off the field.”
It's likely that what Arians said didn’t sit well with McCoy. His release did not sit well with David, either, and with the new regime coming in for the 2019 season, there is good reason for players to wonder if Arians could call them out next. McCoy has been a staple at Raymond James Stadium since his first season in Tampa in 2010, and by calling out such a high profile player and locker room leader, Arians risks something that any new regime can’t risk: losing the support of its players.
Follow River Wells on Twitter @riverhwells and contact him at [email protected].