- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been busy bringing in free agents. But that’s not all they’re worried about.
Coach Lovie Smith admitted during Wednesday’s NFC coaches breakfast the team wants to get All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy signed to a contract extension.
“Yes, that is definitely a priority,’’ Smith said. “He’s a guy that we definitely want around for a while, to say the least.’’
That’s pretty obvious. After two injury-filled seasons to start his career, McCoy has emerged as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. He already is counting $12.7 million against this year’s salary cap. An extension that would make McCoy one of the league’s top-paid defensive tackles likely would average about $13 million a year.
That’s a steep price. But Smith inadvertently made a statement that McCoy’s agents might want to use whenever the negotiations start. Smith said he expects McCoy to only get better.
“Gerald had 9.5 sacks (last season),’’ McCoy said. “That’s hard to do for an inside player and he missed a few. We feel like, even though he’s considered a great player, Joe Cullen will do a great job coaching him and we feel like he can take another step.’’