Former Tampa Bay Buccaneersdefensive tackle Gerald McCoyhas agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers on Monday.
The 31-year-old McCoy, who is entering his 10th NFLseason, reportedly signed a one-year deal worth up to $10.25 million, including a $4 million signing bonus, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Tampa Bay released McCoy after announcing the two sides “mutually parted ways” on May 21.
Ian Rapoport and Schefter broke down why the tackle likely made his decision:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
One thing that became clear in this process: Gerald McCoy wanted to stay in the South, where it’s familiar, rather than Baltimore or Cleveland. Loved both teams, wasn’t sure about both cities. That and the chance to play against his former team twice…
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Gerald McCoy left Baltimore thinking he very well might sign there. But Carolina wowed him on his visit; Cam Newton helped recruit McCoy big time, per source. To cap it off, McCoy gets to play his former Bucs team that released him and gave his No. 93 to Ndamukong Suh. Personal.
“Carolina was a great fit for me,” McCoy said in a text to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, via colleague David Newton. “Being around the guys we just meshed & I love the instant chemistry we had. They have a tradition of having a great defense. I love the players and I believe in No. 1. Ron Rivera is a proven coach and can’t wait to get started.”
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera also spoke about the possibility of landing McCoy earlier Monday:
Joe Person @josephperson
Ron Rivera says he thinks Panthers have a very good chance w/ Gerald McCoy…But concedes the other two teams involved would probably say the same thing. https://t.co/ILo9PwXLEK
The six-time Pro Bowler, who the Bucs drafted third overall in 2010, has registered five or more sacks from 2012-2018. He has missed just eight games during that span.
Football analyst Warren Sharp summed up McCoy’s seismic presence on the Tampa Bay defense well:
Warren Sharp @SharpFootball
Hope your defense lands Gerald McCoy & optimizes him. Since 2015: The Bucs are 12-7 (63%) when McCoy records at least two QB hits. * 5 of 7 losses (71%) came by 3 or fewer points. They are 13-32 (29%) in all other games. * Only 4 of 32 losses (13%) came by 3 or fewer points.
Mark Chichester of Pro Football Focus also viewed his work kindly:
The former third overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft has been a consistent force along the defensive line from Day 1. He has earned overall grades north of 70.0 in six-of-nine professional seasons, and he is one of only 11 interior defensive linemen who has notched at least 35 quarterback pressures in each of the last three years. He ranks ninth at the position in total wins above replacement (WAR) since entering the league in 2010 and 14th in the same metric since 2016.
McCoy joins a Panthers team that is looking for answers after a 1-7 finish sabotaged its 6-2 start last season.
The defense was partially to blame, finishing a below average 19th in the scoring department. Carolina let up 30.4 points per game over a five-game stretch that saw the team go from 6-2 to 6-7.
The Panthers have added reinforcements, notably drafting Florida State edge-rusher Brian Burns and picking up defensive end Bruce Irvin via free agency. McCoy should only help Carolina’s effort to restore past defensive glory. It also helps Carolina that it got stronger as its divisional rival in Tampa Bay got weaker with McCoy moving within the NFC South.
Although McCoy is nine seasons deep into his NFL career, he’s proven to be a productive and durable defensive tackle and should excel in year 10.