Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said he’ll never disrespect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he spent the first nine years of his NFL career with the Bucs before he was released in May.
On Tuesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provided comments McCoy made on the former’s RapSheet and Friends podcast about McCoy’s decision to sign with the NFC South rival Panthers. McCoy said it was “misconstrued” as a shot toward the Bucs, adding “I’ll never say anything negative about Tampa.”
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
On RapSheet + Friends, I was about to say goodbye to our guest, #Panthers DT Gerald McCoy. But he had more to say. #Bucs fans need to hear this from the long-time Tampa Bay star. It’s pretty great. https://t.co/Tb2KAtvZc7
The 31-year-old University of Oklahoma product has downplayed the revenge storyline since he was introduced by Carolina. He told Max Henson of the Panthers’ official website he wasn’t concerned about new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ saying he’s “not as disruptive as he used to be.”
“That was said by somebody who doesn’t know me and was never around me. Why it was said, I really don’t care. I know who I am and what I’m capable of,” McCoy said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Tampa also immediately gave McCoy’s old No. 93 to his replacement, Ndamukong Suh.
McCoy’s statistics dropped off in 2018 to 28 tackles, his lowest total since an injury-shortened 2011 season, and six sacks, tied for his fewest since 2012. Yet Pro Football Focus still graded him as the league’s 28th-best interior defender.
Though the six-time Pro Bowler is seemingly trying to distance himself from his old team while showing ample respect for his near-decadelong run with the organization, the comparisons between McCoy and Suh will be inevitable throughout the 2019 campaign.
McCoy joined a front seven that also features Dontari Poe, Bruce Irvin and first-round pick Brian Burns. It should be one of Carolina’s biggest strengths, which should put McCoy in position for a monster year.