The Ravens and Browns have both made strong pitches to sign Gerald McCoy in free agency, but Baltimore needs to win the race for the defensive lineman.
There’s been no shortage of teams interested in signing Gerald McCoy after the Buccaneers made the curious decision to let him go. The Ravens and Browns have risen to the top of the disruptive defender’s wish list. It’s imperative that Baltimore outbid their division rivals to sign McCoy.
According to Ian Rapoport, McCoy and his representatives are hoping that a bidding war will emerge between the two AFC North rivals. He hasn’t ruled out the idea of visiting a third team, but it seems that his preference would be to sign for either the Browns or Ravens.
McCoy is a talented enough player to help either franchise. He wasn’t a perfect schematic fit for Tampa Bay, but his ability to rush the passer would give a much-needed boost to either Baltimore or Cleveland’s defensive line.
The Ravens just happen to be the team with the bigger need to fill along their defensive front.
If he does go to Baltimore it’s easy to see McCoy getting snaps at multiple positions on the defensive line. Most of his work would come at their traditional defensive tackle spot. McCoy would theoretically take a starting position away from Chris Wormley.
He started six games for the Ravens last season but isn’t a premier pass rusher by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s even possible that McCoy could see action as a rush end on obvious passing downs. Losing Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs in the offseason leaves John Harbaugh’s defense a little light of accomplished edge rushers.
Tim Williams and rookie Jaylon Ferguson could give the defense enough pressure to get by, but adding McCoy to the mix could push the group from good to great.
In Cleveland, it’s more difficult to see McCoy carving out an impactful role. The Browns solved their need at defensive tackle earlier this offseason by inking Sheldon Richardson to a free agent deal.
In theory, McCoy would provide an upgrade over Larry Ogunjobi, but the former third-round pick was pretty good for Cleveland last year. At best, McCoy would serve as a marginal upgrade to the team’s defensive tackle rotation.
It’s very difficult to see McCoy getting any meaningful snaps on the edge for the Browns. Myles Garrett and Oliver Vernon have those spots covered. The simple truth is that it’s much easier to see a path for consistent playing time for McCoy in Baltimore than in Cleveland.
That doesn’t mean the Ravens should make an outlandish offer to land McCoy, but they should be working hard to beat the Browns out for his services. As long as the bidding doesn’t get out of control, the Ravens need to win the battle to sign McCoy.