Though nothing official ever came directly from the team—I don’t believe it would even have been allowed—the Cleveland Browns have for a while now been linked with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a former third-overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a multiple-time All-Pro.
The Buccaneers released him yesterday, basically because they couldn’t afford him under their salary cap structure, and reportedly had been looking for a trading partner for a couple of months now. The Browns were said to have had interest but would also be patient with the market.
Now they and the 30 other teams have the opportunity to bid for his services. Will they? That has to be the assumption provided that the rumors of trade interest were true. McCoy was playing under a seven-year, $95.2 million contract extension he signed in 2014 and was scheduled to make $13 million this year.
What kind of value is he going to find on the secondary market, now that he is suddenly available in the middle of May? It’s quite worth noting that Ndamukong Suh also remains available, so that is two (formerly) premiere defensive interior players as free agents at the same time, so they might actually keep each other’s prices down.
Two other defensive linemen who remain available at this point are Muhammad Wilkerson and Corey Liuget. All of them remain available not because they are well past their ability to play at a high level, but because they have not met the market that they were yet looking for.
Meanwhile, one would have to assume that if there were a team willing to pay McCoy $13 million this season, they probably would have traded for him. And remember, the Browns have already spent money on a former high-valued defensive tackle, a former teammate of Wilkerson’s with the New York Jets, Sheldon Richardson.
Richardson agreed to a three-year, $37 million contract to join the Browns’ defensive interior. He is currently expected to pair with Larry Ogunjobi on the inside, bookmarked by 2017 first-overall pick Myles Garrett and trade acquisition Olivier Vernon.
Wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. may have been Cleveland’s most heralded and most audacious move made this offseason, but the additions that they have made to their defensive line should not go unnoticed, either. Adding McCoy to that mix on top of everything else would provide a very formidable group for opposing offensive lines to contend with.