- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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McCown will turn 35 on July 4. That may sound old for a guy the Bucs are expecting to be their starter. But, at last week’s NFL owners meetings, coach Lovie Smith didn’t seem worried about McCown’s age.
“Thirty-four is a number and being a 34-year-old guy that has been back and forth for a long period of time and doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on his body,’’ Smith said. “He’s a very good athlete. He won’t get the credit for being the athlete that he is. He brings mobility to the position. He makes good decisions.’’
Smith previously coached McCown in Chicago. That’s part of the reason McCown was Tampa Bay’s first, and only, target in free agency.
“As I looked at, I said, ‘Who is available that I think can help us win football games?’’’ Smith said. “What Josh displayed last year was that. I know a lot has been said about his leadership, but I’m talking about his play on the football field. That’s what you go on. There are a couple other good quarterbacks in their 30s doing a pretty good job right now. I don’t think you are ready to be put out to pasture yet when you get into your 30s. I feel pretty good – confident – about the type of play we’re going to get from him.’’
Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning all are 35 or older, so Smith has a point about not putting quarterbacks out to pasture. While it’s true that McCown hasn’t played nearly as much as Brady, Brees and Manning, his age might not be a negative because he hasn’t taken the punishment those three quarterbacks have.