NFL: Gerald McCoy Says Buccaneers Broke Unwritten Rule After He Left

Gerald McCoy is arguably one of the best players in the franchise even though some were predicting he would be traded away prior to the start of the 2019 season. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they released him from his contract as they were unable to locate a team willing to take on his $13 million annual paychecks. 

The decision was difficult both personally and professionally according to a statement by Tampa Bay’s general manager Jason Licht who called McCoy a “cornerstone of this franchise and a leader in our community.” Licht went on to say:

“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.”

McCoy went on to sign with an $8 million single-season agreement with the Carolina Panthers and it would seem as though he and the Buccaneers had an amicable split. But things aren’t always as they seem according to some recent reports.

A bittersweet ending

Ultimately, it would appear McCoy feels the Tampa Bay Bucs disrespected him by giving away his jersey number to Ndamukong Suh, thereby breaking an unwritten rule in the franchise — “In remembrance of outstanding performances in the past, an NFL team shall not pass on the number of one talented player to another.”

Although that previous statement was completely made up and doesn’t exist in any rule books, it’s still a tradition in the league. One Tampa Bay obviously overlooked which disappointed McCoy. Although he kept tight-lipped about his feelings for the Buccaneers during the offseason in 2019, McCoy unleashed his displeasure on the FS1 Undisputed show. The video was shared on Twitter.

Even one of the commentators in the cast pointed out the faux pas and potential disrespect inflicted by the Bucs when they questioned, “How upsetting, okay not only do we want to move on from Gerald McCoy, but they bring a guy who plays your position and put him in your old number.” It would appear this may not have been an oversight. Many feel this was an affront to the very nature of this defensive tackle.

A numbers game

There are many ways of looking at this dilemma and disagreement purely from a numbers standpoint. According to league rules, the way jersey numbers are assigned to players in the NFL is that they are given in certain ranges according to different offensive and defensive positions. With more players gaining NFL Hall of Fame status annually, teams will eventually begin to run out of these individual numbers.

In dollars and sense, part of the decision to break Gerald McCoy away from the Buccaneers line-up could stem from a salary cap standpoint. Not to mention that after nine seasons of play and at age thirty-one, he’s not a well-seasoned veteran but he’s no spring chicken either. To be fair, Ndamukong Suh is a year older than McCoy and has been playing for the same number of seasons.

Similar stats

If one were to compare McCoy and Suh’s numbers side-by-side from the playing field, neither are overly remarkable nor are they disappointing. 

  • So far in their careers, neither player has led the league in any figures available from their playing stats
  • If anything, Suh has an advantage over McCoy since he played in this year’s Super Bowl

With both of these players donning new jerseys in 2019, it will be interesting to see how they play separately defensively, especially when their teams come together to compete. We’ll see the first match-up of the Bucs vs the Panthers in week three on September 22, 2019.