Two weeks after signing with the Carolina Panthers, Gerald McCoy addressed his departure from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and expressed disappointment that the franchise gave his number, 93, to free-agent newcomer Ndamukong Suh.
"When (Warren) Sapp left ... John Lynch, (Derrick) Brooks, Lee Roy Selmon, Ronde Barber, when all these guys left, nobody wore their number. They didn't give their number away. It was a sign of respect," McCoy said during a Wednesday appearance on FOX Sports' "Undisputed."
"I'm one of the best players to ever play in the organization ... It kind of shows the respect and how they felt about me ... Them giving the number away, that's their prerogative. But the respect they showed ... it may seem like just a number, but it's bigger than that. It's respect, and that was a big part of the separation between me and Tampa."
The Buccaneers released McCoy this offseason, ending a nine-season tenure that saw the defensive tackle named to six Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro squads.
A pillar of the organization since it drafted him in 2010, the 31-year-old appeared disappointed by the lack of communication from Tampa Bay following the 2018 campaign.
"I did not speak to any of the coaches besides (head coach) Bruce Arians without running into them while I was in the building ... nobody called my phone," McCoy said. "I didn't speak to my D-line coach, I didn't speak to (defensive coordinator) Todd Bowles, I didn't speak to anybody. I didn't speak to (general manager) Jason Licht, I spoke to nobody.
"And if I'm supposed to be one of the staples, have been one of the staples in this organization since I've been there ... you mean to tell me they can't just pick up the phone?"
After signing with the Panthers, McCoy said he was excited to play for 'a true contender' in the Buccaneers' NFC South rival.
"I have no hard feelings towards Tampa at all," he told "Undisputed." "But there comes a point in time where you have to show some respect, and I didn't feel like they showed me the respect that I deserved, that I earned."