Gerald McCoy knows the end of his football career is near, but he's ready to give it another go.
Where better to close a career than the place he once called home for nearly a decade?
The veteran defensive tackle made an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, speaking with a pair of hosts that included the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager who made McCoy the third-overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. As a free agent, McCoy can choose where he'll attempt a comeback in 2021, and he has his eye on the home of the Super Bowl champions.
"I would love to go back to Tampa," McCoy told hosts Mark Dominik and Bill Lekas. "A lot of people had, they kind of misunderstood what took place between me and Tampa. They think it was, 'Well, he left,' or 'Tampa released him.' Nah, there was more to it than that. All the issues or whatever that I had with Tampa, we worked out last season when I was with Carolina.
"Let me kill this narrative right now. I did not go to the Carolina Panthers to get back at Tampa. If anybody thinks that football means that much to me that I would make a life decision based off trying to get back at an organization, they don't know me. So, I didn't go to Carolina to get back at Tampa, it had nothing to do with my decision, and there's no bad blood. I talked to Jason Licht, I talked to the Glazers, I text all my teammates, I text these guys all the time, especially after they win. And then when they won the Super Bowl, I was really excited for those guys."
McCoy is two seasons removed from being a Buccaneer, having been released following the 2018 season in a move that was more about salary cap and age than it was production. He was a hot commodity on the free agent market, taking visits with multiple teams before signing with the division rival Panthers in a move many saw as a chance at revenge.
As McCoy made clear Monday, that wasn't his motive. Though he didn't offer an explanation for why he chose Carolina, McCoy did his best to silence any thought of division or bad blood between he and the Buccaneers. After spending his first nine seasons wreaking havoc on the defensive interior but never achieving much team success with the once directionless Buccaneers, his departure preceded an incredible turnaround by a year. And while McCoy spent many long months rehabbing a quadriceps tendon tear that ended his 2020 season -- which he was signed to spend with Dallas -- before it even got started, his former team rode a hot streak all the way to its second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
With the window for contention still open entering 2021, no one can blame McCoy for wanting to engineer a homecoming that gets him a chance to taste the success he rarely experienced with the Buccaneers. We even had him as our pick for a free-agent fit with the Bucs, who have plenty of work to do to retain their title-winning squad.
"If there'd be a situation where I could go back there, that would be great," McCoy said. "I still have a home there and I've always loved Tampa. I grew up a Tampa fan as a kid, I was blessed enough to be drafted there, and I've always wanted to experience winning in Tampa. So it would be great to be there."
A year ago, another McCoy -- LeSean -- made similar overtures to the Philadelphia Eagles, sending a public message to the team that drafted him that he'd like to return to them at a late stage in his career. He instead ended up signing with Tampa Bay, where he played a tertiary role at best, but won his second Super Bowl.
Gerald McCoy would be a depth addition, and likely wouldn't cost much after missing an entire season. And unlike the man who shares his last name, he might just get lucky and end up reuniting with his old squad -- if they'll have him, and the cap space to bring him home.