The Cleveland Browns were once viewed as a front-runner for Gerald McCoy, but the Browns appeared to have been McCoy’s third choice of the finalists.
The Browns were the first team McCoy visited with and were widely seen as one of the two front-runners, along with the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns let McCoy leave his visit without a deal and let him visit the Ravens. He then visited the Carolina Panthers following his Baltimore visit.
Even though the Browns were seen as the front-runner by some around the league, it appears they finished third in the sweepstakes to sign McCoy. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, McCoy believed he would sign with the Ravens before visiting with the Panthers.
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The Browns organization seemed optimistic that they were going to sign McCoy, especially head coach Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens said they wanted McCoy to take his other visits because he was confident McCoy would like how the Browns stacked up compared to other teams – via ClevelandBrowns.com.
“We want Gerald to go out and look at other places. Because when he makes the commitment here, we want him to be all in. Because everybody that is going to be here is going to be all in and that is what we need to get to where we are going. We are fine with him taking a look at everybody else. We do not care. Because we told him who we were and if that is who he wants, he will end up here. He knows the direction we are headed.” – ClevelandBrowns.com
When trying to find his new team, McCoy reportedly wanted to sign with a contender, and the Browns appeared to be in the best position to reach the playoffs of the team’s with the most interest in McCoy.
However, one of the reasons McCoy decided to sign with the Panthers was because he wanted to stay closer to the south and closer to home, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. Rapoport also reported that McCoy “wasn’t sure” about Cleveland because he was not familiar with the city.
Adding McCoy would have been another victory for the Browns this offseason, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Cleveland has already rebuilt their defensive line this offseason, trading for defensive end Olivier Vernon and signing defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. But it seems like players on the Browns roster were still expecting to have McCoy joining the team – via ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
Despite signing Richardson earlier in the offseason, the Browns were hoping to create a star-studded defensive tackle rotation by attempting to sign McCoy. Depth was one of the biggest issues with the Browns defensive line last season, and signing McCoy would have instantly cured that problem.
Even though the Browns did not land McCoy, they are still in a great position to compete for the playoffs in 2019. But after being viewed as an early favorite to sign the defensive tackle, finishing third in the McCoy sweepstakes seems like a missed opportunity for the Browns.