Eyeing cap space, Buccaneers release veteran DT Gerald McCoy

He will go down as one of the great players in Buccaneers history, most certainly a spot in the Ring of Honor at some point. But Gerald McCoy will not have the opportunity to finish his career in pewter and red. 

The Bucs officially released the veteran defensive tackle Monday evening. 

The move was not a surprise, if you've paid any attention to the team’s salary cap issues this offseason. McCoy was cut because they couldn’t afford to pay him the $13-million he was due and they couldn’t find a trade partner willing to either. 

The 31-year old played nine seasons in Tampa, made six Pro Bowls, and had a big impact off the field as well, winning the Bucs’ man of the year award. He will now be free to sign with a team he feels can win a Super Bowl this year.

Cleveland has already reached out about McCoy and new Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is lobbying for him, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

“These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht offered in a prepared 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.”

“I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here," new head coach Bruce 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.”   

The release of McCoy comes at a particularly difficult time as the team will be without Jason Pierre-Paul for at least the first month of the season due to injury. 

It does free up around $8-million in salary cap space after signing the draft class. 

One name that is circulating is Ndamukong Suh, who was drafted one spot ahead of McCoy in 2010.  Suh is a five-time pro bowler, bouncing around the last couple years, following his long tenure in Detroit with stops in Miami and L.A.  With the Rams, he did play in a 3-4 defense. 

He will, however, likely be commanding more than $8-million.