On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, a move that had been in the works for a while. The team had been trying to trade their star defender as he doesn’t fit in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme, but nothing materialized and McCoy was released.
Not surprisingly, a lot of people on the Twittersphere began clamoring for their favorite team to go get McCoy, one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the NFL the last eight years. And for the Cowboys, McCoy would likely fit right in given the similarities in scheme.
Most sacks by defensive tackles since 2010:— Allan Bell (@AllanBell247) May 21, 2019
Geno Atkins - 71.0
Aaron Donald - 59.5
Ndamukong Suh - 56.0
Gerald McCoy - 54.5
But apparently it doesn’t seem likely that the Cowboys are going to make any push for the new free agent. Mike Fisher of 247 Sports reported that the Dallas front office has “very little interest” in McCoy and haven’t even had a formal meeting to discuss the possibility.
That’s unfortunate, because the Cowboys absolutely should go after McCoy. Of course, a big part of this equation has to do with price, and if McCoy wants to be paid anywhere close to the $13 million he was due to make with Tampa Bay this year, Dallas should walk away. But if the Cowboys are able to get McCoy on a relatively cheap, one year “prove it” deal, then there’s no reason not to go after the 31-year-old defensive tackle.
First of all, McCoy would be an ideal fit in Rod Marinelli’s defensive line. Standing at 6’4” and 300 pounds with a nearly 34” arm length, McCoy has the length Marinelli likes. McCoy is also a terror in the middle of the line, where he exceeds as a one-gap pass rusher. From 2014 to 2015, McCoy played under head coach Lovie Smith, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and defensive line coaches Joe Cullen and Mike Phair, all of whom have worked with Marinelli at length in the past. And for what it’s worth, McCoy had 8.5 sacks both of those years.
Now, McCoy turned 31 earlier this year and is a little past his prime, evidenced by him recording just six sacks in each of the last two years. In a way, he’s a very similar player to Robert Quinn in that respect. Like Quinn, McCoy wouldn’t be asked to play every down, and would undoubtedly rotate in with Maliek Collins and Trysten Hill, among others. But McCoy’s skill and familiarity with what Marinelli asks his defensive linemen to do would make him invaluable right away.
Others might argue that signing McCoy makes no sense given Hill’s presence with their top pick in the draft. On the contrary, McCoy would only help Hill in the long run. Throughout his time with the Buccaneers, and even through the changes in coaching staffs, McCoy has remained a positive locker room personality that goes above expectations to mentor younger players. Whether it’s mentoring fellow defensive tackles, staying late after practice to work with rookies, or working with the at-the-time newly-drafted franchise quarterback, Jameis Winston, McCoy has shown a willingness to do more than just play football.
As a six-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection, McCoy represents what the Cowboys hope Hill becomes. Why not have Hill spend his rookie season learning directly from McCoy? In addition to providing a spark on the defensive line, McCoy would serve as a valuable bridge player for Hill. Plus, as David Helman pointed out, the Cowboys could do well to amass a few more options at the position going forward:
The Cowboys have a bunch of DTs on the roster. The three rookies (Trystan Hill & 2 UDFAs) are the only ones under contract beyond 2019. Also, none of them have been to 6 Pro Bowls.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) May 21, 2019
I’d absolutely call Gerald McCoy if I were them.
Now, McCoy is likely to end up in either Cleveland or New England, and the Cowboys’ lack of interest in him at this early stage seems to suggest they feel confident in their current group of defensive tackles. But getting McCoy on a bargain deal would the finishing touch on what could (and should) be a dominant defense in 2019.