It has been previously reported for a while now that the Cleveland Browns were interested in former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy while, you know, he was still with the Buccaneers. The AFC North rivals had already made two key additions to their defensive line this offseason to pair with Pro Bowler Myles Garrett, so adding another former Pro Bowler into the mix inside would create a formidable front on paper.
As it turns out, the Browns are not the only team in the AFC North with similar ideas. The Cincinnati Bengals also are said to have interest in McCoy, according to Dianna Russini of ESPN. Of course, it’s not exactly a surprise when multiple teams have interest in a former Pro Bowler suddenly released because of his team’s salary cap situation.
— Dianna (@diannaESPN) May 22, 2019
With two AFC North teams reportedly now after him, will the Pittsburgh Steelers have to contend with him twice a year? They did face him last year in Week Three when they played the Buccaneers. McCoy recorded two tackles and was credited with half a sack in the game. His most notable play was when the drew a pass interference call when striking Ben Roethlisberger. He was mic’ed up for the game and you could hear him apologize as he pulled up.
The 31-year-old played in 14 of 16 games last year, recording 28 tackles, the lowest total since his rookie season aside from his second year, when he played in only six games. He did record six sacks, which matched his total from 2017.
Since being the third-overall pick in 2010—Ndamukong Suh was the second—McCoy has recorded 297 tackles as well as 54 and a half sacks, producing six forced fumbles. He has made the Pro Bowl six times, every year from 2012 through 2017, and has also been an All-Pro four times, most recently in 2016.
Due $13 million in base salary this year, The Buccaneers were already very tight against the cap. They reportedly sought a trade partner in recent months and ultimately determined that they would release him.
According to reports, the Buccaneers have actually been working on finalizing a deal with Suh, who has been on the open market all offseason following the completion of his one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams. However, that deal has yet to be completed, and as you know, a number of things can go wrong before it is.
As for the Bengals, they have a number of weapons at defensive end, from Carlos Dunlap and Jordan Willis to Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard, but inside it’s mostly about Geno Atkins and Andrew Billings, who moved into a starting role last year. McCoy, if signed, would certainly replace him in the starting lineup and Billings would serve as depth.