The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have cut former All-Pro Defensive Tackle, Gerald McCoy, and were quick to replace him with free-agent Ndamukong Suh. This was a great off season move by the Bucs to stabilize their defense while creating some much needed cap-room.
When the Buccaneers moved on from McCoy, it left a massive hole in an already vulnerable defense. Unsurprisingly, Defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, was not ready to hand the reigns of the starting defensive tackle spot to last year’s first round pick, Vita Vea, after a rookie season plagued with injury. To remedy this misfortune General Manager Jason Licht turned to free agency to find a temporary fix for the 2019-2020 season. There was only one free-agent that could seamlessly transition in to the Buc’s defense and match McCoy inch for inch- Ndamukong Suh.
Suh and McCoy are very similar from how they are built to how they play, and Suh will easily be able to replace McCoy at Defensive Tackle. The two defensive tackles were drafted back to back in the 2010 draft; Suh was drafted 3rd overall by the Detroit Lions followed by McCoy being drafted by Tampa. Both players are 6’4 and Suh outweighs McCoy’s 295 pound by 15 pounds. The similarities do not end at just their measurements but, their stats are also similar with Suh outshining McCoy in a few crucial categories. Over the years McCoy has dealt with a multitude of health issues causing him to miss multiple games. Every player gets injured from time to time, but it should be a major red flag to the general manager when injuries become a trend. The last time McCoy played a full season of football was in 2013; McCoy is just not as durable as he needs to be to play a full season. On the other hand, Suh has been able take the wear and tear of the NFL and has only missed two games in 2011. Last year, McCoy played a total of 14 games and earned six sacks. On the Rams, Suh managed to rack up 4.5 sacks in 16 games. I will admit that McCoy is a talented pass rusher and that he will benefit the team that chooses to sign him, but Suh delivers essentially the same results at a steep discount. The lack of sacks for Suh can be attributed to having to share the line with Defensive player of the year- Aaron Donald. What Suh fell short in sacks he made up for in his run-stopping ability. Last year, Suh was able to tally 59 combo tackles and 36 solo tackles. This is more than double McCoy’s 28 combo tackles and 17 solo tackles. One could argue, that Suh benefited from being on the Ram’s defensive line last year thus inflating his stats. If we look back on to Suh’s time on Miami it is clear that he was still a superior run defender in 2017. In 2017 Suh gathered 48 combo tackles with 29 solo tackles, while on a substandard Miami defense. Suh may lack the pass rushing ability that McCoy possessed, but he makes up for it with his superior run stopping ability which will be more beneficial to Tampa.
Financially, the switch to Suh was also a great move. In 2014, McCoy signed a 6 year/ 95,200,000 contract. If McCoy was kept on the roster, the Bucs would have been liable to pay him 13 million for the 2019-2020 season. By cutting McCoy and signing Suh to a one year contract for 9,250,000 the Bucs managed to open 3,750,000 in cap room. This much-needed money will allow the bucs to sign more free agents to add depth to the roster.
It is heartbreaking as a fan to see the face of the franchise not leaving on his own terms, but it becomes bittersweet when McCoy’s dismissal allows the team to prosper in the coming year. The Bucs managed to replace McCoy with a superior player at a heavy discount.