A six-time Pro Bowler and arguably the Bucs' most visible player over the past nine seasons on and off the field, McCoy has been a no-show for the Bucs' offseason program that began last month. Although attendance for the offseason program has always been optional, McCoy, who was the third overall draft pick in 2010, always was a fixture at these workouts.
McCoy's departure was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
The source of contention was McCoy's $13 million salary in 2019, none of which was guaranteed. He had three years currently remaining on his deal, which would have kept him with the team through 2021.
"These decisions are very difficult, personally and professionally," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said. "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."
The move was financially motivated. The Bucs had less than $2 million in salary-cap space and still needed to sign first-round draft pick Devin White.
"I know Gerald has done a lot of good things on and off the football field in Tampa during his time here," Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said. "You hate to see good football players go, but this is a decision that we felt needed to be made in order to allow us, and Gerald, the ability to move forward. Gerald is a class act, and I wish him the best."
McCoy, 31, had grown frustrated with his status in limbo and the fact that the team would not commit to him this offseason, while the Bucs didn't believe his level of production was worth the cost.
Arians said at NFL owners meetings, "He's not as disruptive as he was four years ago, but he's still a good player."
McCoy let out some of that frustration in an Instagram post earlier this month when he said, "All-Pro on and off the field. Wanna question me? The heck? Is he gonna be ready? Do he love football? What?! Y'all crazy. Lost y'all mind. I work. Don't you ever question me!"