Carolina Panthers, NFL

Panthers emerge as surprise suitor for Gerald McCoy

The Panthers don’t have a big need to fill at defensive tackle, but evidently they believe Gerald McCoy is too talented to pass up. 

Gerald McCoy has terrorized the Panthers’ offensive line during the entirety of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evidently officials in Carolina have seen enough. Now they want to bring McCoy in to help their defense run roughshod over the NFC South.

McCoy is now scheduled to visit the Panthers this week. That news will come as a blow to the Browns and Ravens. Both franchises hosted the disruptive defensive lineman immediately in the aftermath of his Tampa Bay release. Each team hoped they could ink McCoy to a contract before he left town. The revelation that he’s going to take another visit won’t be received well in either Cleveland or Baltimore.

McCoy certainly has the talent to help Ron Rivera’s defense, but he’s not a clear fit with the personnel currently employed by Carolina. The team is in the midst of transitioning from a conventional 4-3 defense to a more multiple 3-4 look. At first glance, McCoy doesn’t seem like a player who can help the team make that switch.

The Panthers deserve credit for taking a run at McCoy despite his lack of an obvious fit. It would be easy for general manager Marty Hurney and his front office to sit back and see how things shake out once the preseason really gets going. Instead, they’re trying to amass as much talent as possible to help sharpen the teeth of their defensive front.

If McCoy does end up calling Charlotte home, he’ll probably play several positions for Rivera and his coaching staff. He played almost exclusively at defensive tackle during his time with the Buccaneers, but he lacks the size to play as a nose tackle in a three-man front. That spot will be largely occupied by Dontari Poe. McCoy might get some snaps as his backup, but that’s not the role the Panthers are focused on.

They see real potential in McCoy as a player who can both rush the passer and hold up against the run as a defensive end in a 3-4 alignment. Ironically, the coaches in Tampa Bay weren’t overly optimistic about his ability to make that transition. The Panthers’ coaches clearly think his skill at making plays in the opposing backfield can help their defense in all phases of the game.

Next: Ravens need to outbid the Browns for Gerald McCoy

The real question regarding McCoy’s free agency is which team will ultimately offer him the most money to sign the dotted line. It’s unlikely that any of the three teams on the player’s current list will break the bank for his services. That means the Panthers have a shot to swoop in and add a dynamic player to their defensive line.

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