OKLAHOMA CITY -- It's not just because they're longtime buddies that Gerald McCoy is watching with interest as No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford negotiates his first contract with the St. Louis Rams.
McCoy's desire to get to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp on time in two weeks also hinges heavily on how long it takes his former college teammate to sign.
McCoy was selected two picks after Bradford in the draft and he doesn't think his contract talks with the Bucs will heat up until Bradford's deal is done. He said Saturday night that he's "waiting on King Sam."
"I would love to be there on time. But it's also one of those situations where while an opportunity presents itself for you to get paid, you need to get as much as you can," McCoy said before throwing out the first pitch at an Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHawks minor league baseball game.
"It's nothing like, 'I'm worth this much.' You get as much money as you can while it's there because you never know what could happen."
The looming perils include not only the possibility of injury but also a chance for a work stoppage next year if the league and its players can't come to terms on a collective bargaining agreement.
"Given the fact that we're about to enter a lockout, you've got to get as much money as you can," McCoy said.
McCoy said that Bradford has "got to go first" in the negotiating process and he expects the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner to get between $75 million and $80 million. The former Sooners teammates, who both grew up in Oklahoma City, are both represented by Creative Artists Agency.
"Once Sam signs, then you've got to start negotiating yours based off of what Sam did and then also slotting off of last year's third pick. There's a lot that goes into it," McCoy said.
"Then everything's a lot slower this year because of the [possibility of a] lockout. There's just a lot that goes into it this year. This is an awkward year to be a rookie."
The Buccaneers open training camp on July 31. McCoy participated in the team's OTAs and minicamp and said that time helped him start adjusting to the NFL, where "you've got to know so many different things and you've got to know all those different things and then be ready for the speed of the game while there's a 330-pound man across from you."
McCoy said otherwise, he's been keeping in shape in Oklahoma City and with occasional visits to Oklahoma's campus in Norman.
"College game preparation is a little different than the NFL. The season's longer," he said. "You can't do so much wear and tear, so you've kind of got to be careful."
At this point, McCoy said he's ready to be playing again -- even if he's not looking forward to practice.
"I just really want to play some football. The money is a blessing," McCoy said. "Who don't want a lot of money? I'm not going to lie and act like I don't want it because I do, but I just want to be to camp on time."
Before taking the field, McCoy told reporters that he knew both Buccaneers starting quarterback Josh Freeman and Tommie Harris -- a fellow former Oklahoma defensive tackle who became a Pro Bowler with the Chicago Bears -- had one-hopped their throws on ceremonial first pitches.
"It'll get there. I don't know how fast it's going to get there, but it will get there eventually," he said.
After egging on the crowd to clap rhythmically, he took his spot on the grass in front of the pitcher's mound and delivered a high pitch into the catcher's glove.