The Buccaneers informed the six-time Pro Bowler they are releasing him, instead of paying the $13 million he was due to make in 2019.
“These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a press release.
“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.”
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times first reported the news.
McCoy has been with Tampa his entire career since the NFC South team drafted him with the No. 3 overall pick out of Oklahoma in 2010.
McCoy was a Pro Bowler every year from 2012 through 2017 and was given first-team All-Pro recognition in 2013. He has 54.5 sacks in his career but is 31 years old and tallied just 28 tackles during the 2018 campaign. It was his lowest mark since he played just six games in 2011, although he was still productive as a pass-rusher with six sacks.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk noted McCoy "has started to show signs of declining play" and will "have a hard time" making the type of money he would have in 2019 if the Buccaneers kept him.
Smith pointed out the presence of other defensive linemen, such as Ndamukong Suh, on the free-agent market will make it all the more difficult for McCoy to find a landing spot, although he said the Cleveland Browns are interested.
ESPN's Adam Schefter pointed to a number of other "spots that would make sense":
This comes after new Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians didn't exactly hold back when discussing McCoy's prospects with the team in March, per Greg Auman of The Athletic: "I've got to evaluate him. 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."
Stroud reported Tuesday that Tampa Bay would not accrue any dead money on its salary cap if it released McCoy, who was absent from organized team activities.