Nearly two full months after the 2019 free agent season officially began, Gerald McCoy threw his hat into the ring. The six-time Pro Bowler barged into the marketplace after reaching a mutual agreement with the Buccaneers that led to his release.
At 31 years old, the veteran defensive tackle is no longer interested in anchoring a rebuild like the one he would have faced under Bruce Arians in Tampa. Instead, he’s looking to make it to the postseason for the first time in his long career by signing with a contender that has not only a need in the middle of its defensive line but the cap space to sign a man who gave up $13 million to earn his freedom.
So who fits the bill? Seventeen teams have at least an estimated $15 million in cap space left this season, and a handful who may have had their eye on Ndamukong Suh are suddenly rethinking their strategy. Here are five teams that have likely reached out to McCoy’s agent after he hit free agency.
With Margus Hunt and Denico Autry up the middle, the Colts have a useful, but unspectacular pairing in the center of their defensive line. Throwing McCoy into the mix would add another level of blocker-bruising power and athleticism and give the 31-year-old the opportunity to rotate to the sideline for a breather without leaving too big a crater behind.
Indianapolis was great at stopping big plays last season but middling-to-bad otherwise. A defensive line bedrock like McCoy would go a long way toward increasing stability on standard downs.
Dallas has a quickly closing window to spend thanks to hefty extensions due to Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, but Jerry Jones could make a one-year deal with the former Buccaneer work. McCoy would slide to the top of an interior defender depth chart currently headed by Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and Christian Covington. He’d be a boon to a passing defense that ranked just 24th in the league in sack rate last fall.
McCoy grew up rooting for the Cowboys, and he’s already got some connections to the club — at least on social media.
With Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson holding down the starting roles inside Cleveland’s 4-3 defense, the club doesn’t have a glaring need for McCoy. Even so, he’d be an impact player on a rising team that’s made no shortage of statements this offseason — and Odell Beckham Jr. is on board.
It looks as if former Bucs’ DT Gerald McCoy already is wanted in Cleveland..... pic.twitter.com/tpZWEPcWuW— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 21, 2019
General manager John Dorsey has no problem signing discarded stars who play relatively redundant positions of strength, as proven by his decision to snap up Kareem Hunt this winter. McCoy could be next — only at a much steeper cost and with way, way less baggage. He’s into the idea, too. the former Buccaneer made northeastern Ohio the first stop on his free agency tour.
Free agent DT Gerald McCoy has told interested teams he will visit the #Browns first, sources tell me and @RapSheet. Visit to happen in the next day. Among the other interested teams in the former #Buccaneers lineman are the #Panthers and #Bengals.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 23, 2019
Seattle has been aggressive in its rebuild this spring, working the phones throughout draft week to infuse both sides of its roster with young talent. Trading away Frank Clark and his franchise tag contract freed up a big chunk of cap space, but it also left the Seahawks in need of a passer rusher — especially after losing more than 30 percent of their sack output with Clark’s departure.
McCoy would make his presence felt next to Jarran Reed (10.5 sacks in 2018) and plant his flag atop a rotation that also includes young players like Nazair Jones and Poona Ford. He wouldn’t help much with Seattle’s need at edge rusher, but having Reed and McCoy flush pockets from the inside out could lead to a renaissance year from the newly signed Ezekiel Ansah.
Los Angeles only has around $13 million in cap space to spend this season, but it has a need at tackle with Brandon Mebane now 34 years old, Darius Philon now with the Arizona Cardinals, and Corey Liuget’s future uncertain as a free agent.
First-round pick Jerry Tillery has been the team’s answer to that problem so far, and assuming his shoulder is completely healed he’ll be a boost up front. Still, finding a way to fit McCoy onto the roster would be a further statement about the Chargers’ commitment to winning as Philip Rivers’ career inches toward its sunset.