Motivated by the Bucs?
After nine incredibly productive seasons as a leader of the Buccaneers, Gerald McCoy was released.
New Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told reporters that McCoy is “not as disruptive as he used to be,” and now he’s a Panther.
What do those words mean to McCoy?
“Nothing. 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.”
After releasing McCoy, the Bucs quickly gave his number 93 to his replacement, newly signed defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. That led many to believe Tampa Bay had added more fuel to McCoy’s fire.
“It’s not my problem,” McCoy said. “That’s the Bucs’ problem. I’m a Panther now.”
And as a Panther, McCoy will get to face the Buccaneers twice in 2019. The Browns and Ravens – his other two finalists – are not playing Tampa Bay during the regular season.
Is he looking forward to those two games?
“Come on, now. You know that,” McCoy said. “If you was me, how would you feel? You know this.”
Why choose Carolina?
Yes, he was a longtime member of a division rival, but McCoy has always had a great amount of respect for the Panthers. And when he visited the team last Friday, he meshed extremely well with his future teammates.
“I’ve always had so much respect for the organization, but I never thought I’d be a part of it,” McCoy said. “From afar, I’ve respected what has been built here and the players that have been brought in.
“They all speak so highly of the organization, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
As McCoy was weighing his options, contending was high on the priority list. He’s never been to playoffs, and he’s determined to change that in 2019.
After a 7-9 season, the national media isn’t expecting much from Carolina. But McCoy knows how good this team can be.
“No question – this team can contend,” McCoy said. “Led by No. 1. I believe in him. The addition of me and all the things they’ve built, I believe we can take this division.”
How big a factor was Cam?
Speaking of No. 1, count Cam Newton among those thrilled to have McCoy on his side now.
McCoy has always spoken very highly of Newton – glowingly, in fact. Now he’ll share a locker room with a competitor he long admired.
“Cam is great for this league. Besides the plays he makes, just what he brings. Energy, fun – he shows kids that you can have a blast, be a good person AND play well,” McCoy said. “He broke the mold of a typical quarterback. Elusive, big arm and smart. And he’s just a winner. I’ve always respected that.”
“He isn’t afraid to be himself, and he doesn’t care how you feel about it. That’s me," McCoy later added during his intro presser. "I’m going to be me. I’m going to have a great time the same way he does. I think we’re going to mesh well.”
Does he fit the defense?
A player of McCoy’s caliber can fit any defense. That’s the simple answer.
“If you a baller, it don’t matter if you a nose, a three (technique), a five (technique) – it don’t matter. If you can play, you can play,” McCoy said.
But a 3-4 with McCoy, Dontari Poe and Kawann Short as your defensive line? Yeah, that sounds pretty darn good (and that's 94.5 sacks between the three of them).
And whether he’s a 3-4 end or a 4-3 tackle, McCoy can get vertical and wreak havoc.
“It’s a great fit,” McCoy said. “This league is evolving. You need guys in the middle who can disrupt and get after the quarterback and be able to be interchangeable. I believe I fit what they’re doing great."
View photos of Carolina's new defensive lineman from his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.