Gerald McCoy and the Bucs part ways and it’s all about the money.

By – Gary Phillips Contributor SportsMoney and Forbes

I write sports at Forbes.com, The Athletic, Sporting News & Jets Wire.

TAMPA – FORBES – It was just a few weeks ago that new Buccanneers head coach Bruce Arians didn’t seem all that thrilled about having Gerald McCoy on his roster. Well, now the defensive tackle no longer is.

McCoy, who has spent his entire nine-year career in Tampa Bay, was cut by the Bucs on Monday. The news was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times before being announced by the team.

“These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “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. We wish Gerald, along with his wife, Ebony and the entire McCoy family continued success and thank them for everything they have meant to our organization and community.” Despite those pleasantries, the Bucs couldn’t pass on the opportunity to save big. By cutting McCoy, they avoid having to pay him $13 million in 2019 and beyond. There were three years left on the 31-year-old’s contract, but this was the first offseason the Bucs could cut him without incurring dead money against the salary cap. McCoy leaves Tampa Bay as one of the franchise’s all-time great players. The third-overall pick in 2010 out of Oklahoma, McCoy went on to record 54.5 sacks, 296 tackles and 140 QB hits. His six Pro Bowl selections trail only Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp for the most in franchise history. McCoy’s departure follows recent comments from Arians in which the new head coach was rather blunt about the former’s status and salary.

“I’ve got to evaluate him,” Arians told The Athletic at the end of March. “Guys at a certain age, it’s different. Usually, the age where they get paid the most and production (doesn’t) match. We’ve got to find that out.” McCoy is coming off a 2018 campaign in which he recorded six sacks, which was good enough for third on the team. On Monday, Arians was more reflective regarding McCoy’s impact in Tampa Bay.

“I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here,” Arians said. “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. Gerald is a class-act and I wish him the best.” Now, McCoy will have a chance the chance to play for another team for the first time in his career. Expect him to pick a contender. While no longer the destructive force he once was up the middle, he’s still a dangerous pass-rusher that will upgrade any defense for a team with playoff aspirations.

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