When Gerald McCoy signed a three-year deal to join the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, it was a move praised by those who understood the team needed to bolster its defensive line with big name talent. McCoy never got to take a single snap in North Texas, however, his season ending before it ever began when he tore a quadricep during a routine teaching moment with defensive lineman Antwaun Woods in practice last August. McCoy underwent season-ending surgery to repair it and was released shortly thereafter, despite the Cowboys initially indicating they'd keep him around -- also having an injury clause built into his contract they knew would allow them to cut him loose and grab the subsequent cap savings.
Fast forward to this offseason and McCoy continues to work on returning from the injury, but with a lack of NFL suitors calling his phone because of it, along with the fact he's 33 years old. Not naive to any of this, the six-time Pro Bowler has a message for general managers around the league.
"For me, I just love this game so much, it's still fun to me," McCoy told The Tampa Bay Times. "I love competing. I just know what my mindset was going into last season, and I don't want an injury or what the NFL deems 'age' to be a derailment and finish like that. I know I can still be an asset to a team, whether it's sparingly, as a starter, in the locker room, whatever it is.
"In training camp, a mentor to the young kids. I just know I have so much more to give this game, even if for a short period of time."
McCoy has made it known he would welcome a return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, having spent nine seasons with them after they selected him with the third-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. To date, the Bucs have re-signed Ndamukong Suh and are keyed in on the potential of Vita Vea and the development of other young, incumbent linemen to complement the newly-extended Shaquil Barrett, which leaves little room for McCoy (if any at all).
He and the Cowboys shared a mutual interest in attempting a mulligan up to the point of the team dismissing both defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after only one year in Dallas, leaving the decision on McCoy's odds of returning to the Cowboys in the hands of newly-hired coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn and the Cowboys have since signed defensive linemen Carlos Watkins, Brent Urban and Tarell Basham in free agency, and are also leaning heavily on the emergence of former third-round pick Neville Gallimore, the progress of former second-round pick Trysten Hill (prior to suffering a torn ACL), a potential unveiling of former fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae and the return of Randy Gregory opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
As this year's draft approaches, the odds of McCoy joining a team before late April are extremely slim. With several teams keeping tabs on him at the moment, it's more likely he becomes a post-draft addition for one whose draft plan didn't materialize and/or one who's willing to kick the tires because of what he might be able to do on the field along with what he brings to the locker room.
"I understand that I've been injured," McCoy said. "And I honestly believe the lack of interest in me being on a team right now is because of my injury. I haven't played in a year and I'm 33 years old. But man, when I still tell you I can play this game at a high level, I know I can."