“If I’m going to play in the NFL, there’s nowhere I want to play right now other than the Redskins,” McCoy said. “I know how this team feels about me, so I just try to block out the other noise and be the best I can be. There’s a lot of guys who have played a lot of football after their ninth year.”
“At this point,” he added of his extension, “it was good enough.”
His contract, which was set to expire after the 2018 season, contained a clause that would have allowed him to become a free agent if he played 65 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. His new deal contains void and buyback provisions that could still allow him to hit free agency. As McCoy sees it: “This made sense for both sides.”
But by no means is the soon-to-be 32-year-old content with being a perennial backup.
“No, not at all,” the former University of Texas star quarterback said, while reflecting on a career trajectory that took him to Cleveland as a third-round pick of the Browns in 2010 before a brief stint in San Fransisco, followed by four seasons as Washington’s backup. “I think from the Redskins’ perspective, the way they structured it, if I play, it’ll be great. I know they know I want to play.”
He is the man behind the team’s current leader, veteran Alex Smith. But McCoy’s role — being ever-ready and ever-prepared — is one that he says he always has taken pride in, and his approach won’t change heading into his ninth season. He has seen dozens of players cycle through the Redskins’ locker room since joining the team in 2014, including two starting quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. McCoy served as a backup to both, preparing behind the scenes with the same level of intensity and attention to detail as he would have had he been the starter. He knew at any given moment his chance might come, and it appeared the opportunity to once again be a starter might be on the horizon.
Cousins’s desire to play elsewhere after the 2017 season, as well as the Redskins’ desire to move on, raised speculation that the offensive reins might be handed over to McCoy, a player in whom Gruden has repeatedly expressed faith over the years. But on Jan. 30, Washington’s front office and the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to terms on a trade for Smith, who signed an extension that will keep him tied to the franchise though 2022. The deal signaled McCoy would be relegated to the sidelines — at least for now.
But the addition of a new quarterback didn’t shake McCoy’s desire to remain with the Redskins or his resolve on being an NFL starter.
“By no means is this saying: I’m content in my role. But I’ll be the best I can be in this role for now,” McCoy said, stressing how much he respects Smith, whom he called “fun to work with” and “a true professional.” “If I didn’t want to compete or play, I would just hang it up. I’ve played a long time, got a great family, but this allows me to be here, to be a part of something special. My wife and I love D.C., we love our community, and we try to be involved there. And I think this made sense for both sides.”
The decision to extend McCoy also was an easy choice for the Redskins.
“Why? Cause Colt’s a great player to have here,” said Gruden, who, in his first season with the Redskins coached McCoy as his No. 3. “He’s a great backup quarterback, he’s a great quarterback in general, and if something happens to Alex — knock on wood — that I know that our team is in good hands. And that position you don’t want to mess around with.”
Opportunities are what McCoy craves. However, those chances have been sporadic. He went 1-3 as a starter in 2014, throwing for 1,507 yards and four touchdowns in place of Cousins before being benched after Griffin returned from injury. Over the next three seasons, McCoy made only two appearances with no starts. But there’s a calmness that comes with knowing how much the organization values him, he said. Especially Gruden.
“Jay brought me, he taught me the system,” McCoy said, before referencing Gruden’s vocal support. “I work as hard as I can work and I think he appreciates a guy that can just be the same person every day. I approach my job the best way I know how, which is to show up every day and bring energy and, obviously, produce on the field.”
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