New Panthers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy visited Fox Sports’ “Undisputed” show Wednesday. He said he can’t wait to play Tampa Bay, his old team, and he didn’t seem happy that the Buccaneers are giving Ndamukong Suh his old number.
Suh signed a one-year deal worth $9.25 million with the Bucs after Tampa released McCoy in May. The move saved the Bucs some cash. McCoy would have counted for $13 million against the 2019 cap.
Suh will wear No. 93, the number McCoy wore in Tampa Bay, where he made six straight Pro Bowls. McCoy said he understood the Bucs had to bring in a star player to replace him but was bothered by the fact that other star players in the organization, like Warren Sapp, got their numbers retired.
“This is Tampa Bay,” McCoy said, “and I’m one of the best players to ever play in the organization. I’m going to say it. Usually I wouldn’t, but so what? But it kind of shows the respect and how they feel about me....Them giving the number away, that’s their prerogative. It would be different if it was a guy who came in and he signed four, five years. This is a one-year deal and you said, ‘Because he caused a problem,’ or ‘He really asked for the number, we gave it to him.’ It may seem like just a number, but it’s bigger than that, it’s respect. And that was a big part of the separation between me and Tampa, period, was the respect they showed me all off-season. It just wasn’t there.”
McCoy, 31, is expected to add teeth to a Panthers pass rush that tied for 27th in the league last season with 35 sacks. Carolina also added Bruce Irvin in free agency and spent its first-round draft pick on Florida State pass rusher Brian Burns.
And McCoy, who has 54 1/2 career sacks in nine seasons, believes the Panthers will make a big jump in 2019.
“If you’re going to go somewhere that’s a contender, and win,” he said, “the best thing to do is win your division. I believe the NFC South is the best division in football. Who’s the champions of the NFC South the past two years? The New Orleans Saints. Who are they run by? Drew Brees. High-powered offense. How do you take out a high-powered offense? You have to have a high-powered defense.”
And McCoy believes he’s ready to make the Panthers a high-powered defense – and ready to play his old team twice.
“I’m looking forward to it,” McCoy said, with a wry smile.