Report: Gerald McCoy will return to Buccaneers after all

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need all the talent defensively they can get, so keeping Gerald McCoy is a good plan.

Gerald McCoy will not be hitting the free agent market and will stay with the Buccaneers for his tenth season.

McCoy was rumored to be a potential cap casualty this offseason, but Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, reports McCoy will return. There will be some changes, however, as McCoy, will have to adapt to a new scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Todd Bowles who runs a 3-4 defense.

McCoy will be asked to play some defensive end in the new base 3-4 alignment, but with consistent shifts to a four-man front McCoy will be deployed from his customary defensive tackle spot on a regular basis.

On their way to a 5-11 season in 2018, the Buccaneers were one of the worst defenses in NFL by every measure. McCoy was a relative bright spot with six sacks and a team-high 21 quarterback hits, but ESPN’s Jenna Laine entertained the possibility the six-time Pro Bowler could be released this offseason.

McCoy added some fuel to the idea he would be cut by the Buccaneers last month, with a tweet reading “embrace change, even if change slaps you in the face.”

McCoy turns 31 on Feb. 25, and his $13 million salary for 2019 is not guaranteed.

The Buccaneers have just under $16 million in cap space, with some internal free agents they’d like to bring back like linebacker Kwon Alexander, wide receiver Adam Humphries and left tackle Donovan Smith.

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McCoy has two years left on his contract after 2019, which will be subject to evaluation for the Buccaneers as they shape their plans those offseasons. But the defense won’t get better by shedding one of its best players, so keeping McCoy around is a good plan and his veteran presence is surely valued highly by Arians and Bowles.

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