It’s time to deal with reality.
There is virtually no chance Gerald McCoy will be a member of the Buccaneers next season. The handwriting is all over the wall and it’s become painfully obvious that the Bucs are not going to get much, if anything at all, in return for the six-time Pro Bowler.
All you have to do is read the tea leaves to see that the Bucs won’t get much more than a mid-round pick (at absolute best) for McCoy. In fact, it’s become increasingly likely that they may have to release him.
So why does one of the best defensive tackles of this decade have essentially no value?
Blame the Bucs and blame McCoy for setting up this scenario. The Bucs haven’t handled the McCoy situation well this offseason. There was speculation dating back to end of last season that McCoy’s days with the Bucs were coming to an end. It was perfectly logical to speculate about that because McCoy is aging, carries a $13 million salary cap hit for this season, and the Bucs don’t have much cap room.
The Bucs could have done a much better job of maximizing McCoy’s market value. But they’ve played their cards all wrong. At the NFL meeting last month, coach Bruce Arians was asked about McCoy and made a crucial mistake by saying McCoy isn’t as disruptive as he was four years ago. General manager Jason Licht was also non-committal about McCoy’s future with the team.
They should have bluffed and made some vague statements about how McCoy is still in the team’s plans. Instead, they spoke in NFL code and basically said, “we don’t want this guy anymore’’.
And McCoy didn’t help matters when he didn’t show for the start of the offseason program last week. That spoke volumes because McCoy has viewed himself as a team leader throughout his career. If he thought he was staying with the Bucs, he would have been the first guy to show for the offseason program.
McCoy knows he’s not going to be with the Bucs. In fact, the entire NFL knows he’s not going to be with the Bucs. Once that became obvious, McCoy’s value crashed through the floor.
There’s an old rule of thumb in the NFL that, once it’s obvious a team wants to unload a player, his value instantly drops. That’s because other teams realize that the team currently holding a player’s rights is so desperate that his trade value is minimal. In fact, some teams won’t even offer anything in exchange because they know the player’s current team may have to simply release him.
There have been numerous reports that the Bucs have been shopping McCoy for a trade, but haven’t been getting much interest. Again, blame the Bucs for not handling this situation better.
The Bucs should have played this one like the New York Giants handled the Odell Beckham Jr. situation. Although there were some rumors Beckham might be on the trading block, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman repeatedly said the team wasn’t looking to get rid of its star wide receiver.
That kept Beckham’s value high and the Cleveland Browns approached the Giants with an offer Gettleman couldn’t refuse. The Browns sent the Giants a first-round pick, a third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers. Gettleman’s approach is the textbook way to get the most you can in a trade.
The Bucs have taken the exact opposite approach with McCoy. They’ve played it the same way the Pittsburgh Steelers handled the Antonio Brown situation. The Steelers made it so obvious they wanted to unload Brown, who I think is better than Beckham, that they drove his trade value down. The best deal the Steelers were able to get was a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick from the Oakland Raiders. That’s a miniscule price for one of the game’s best wide receiver.
In the case of McCoy, the Bucs won’t get anything close to what the Steelers were able to salvage. The Bucs might get lucky and get a mid-round or late-round pick for McCoy. At worst, they may simply have to cut him and get nothing in return.
Pat Yasinskas covered the NFL for more than two decades for two major newspapers and two major websites. He is an occasional contributor to Bucs Report.