Gerald McCoy ‘More a Luxury Than Necessity’
It’s not often that a premier free agent becomes available this time of year, but former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is grabbing the attention of teams after being released late Monday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that McCoy wants to sign with a playoff contender.
Could that team be the Ravens?
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec believes a potential signing would be more a luxury than a necessity.
“Interior defensive line is one of [the Ravens’] deepest positions,” Zrebiec wrote. “If they are going to dip into what remains of their salary cap space, it seems more likely they’d do it to upgrade a position where they’re thin at, like inside linebacker.”
McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler, is one of the most talented defensive linemen in the NFL. He’s shown the ability to rush the passer from the interior, an area the Ravens could look to add help in after Za’Darius Smith and Brent Urban departed in free agency.
But the defensive line is undoubtedly one of the Ravens’ deepest positions, as Zrebiec pointed out. Signing McCoy could potentially sacrifice roster spots and playing time for younger players.
Not to mention, the signing wouldn’t follow Eric DeCosta’s offseason trend of targeting low-cost free-agent deals.
But don’t rule out the possibility just yet.
Along with McCoy’s connection to Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen, who spent two seasons in Tampa Bay, Zrebiec said DeCosta could be saving the remaining cap space for a splash signing.
“DeCosta has been protective of the team’s cap space, and a big reason why is he wanted the team to have the flexibility to make a move if a good player hit the market late in the offseason,” Zrebiec wrote. “That’s why it wouldn’t shock me if the Ravens at least kicked the tires on McCoy, but I’d have to think the deal would be on their terms if they were to sign him.”
You can bet Tony Jefferson has already started his social media recruitment.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell listed adding defensive help at the top of the offseason agenda for the Ravens and pondered the possibility of McCoy in Baltimore.
“They can already line up a pair of fearsome defensive linemen in Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, but I admit I find the idea of the Ravens signing McCoy and threatening teams with interior pressure to be extremely enticing,” Barnwell wrote.
The Ravens, however, may not be the only team in their division aiming for McCoy.
Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported that the Browns have inquired about McCoy and Odell Beckham Jr. has offered his endorsement.
“[T]he Browns would be an attractive landing spot for McCoy as well because of all the new talent, including across the defensive line where the Browns have added end Olivier Vernon and tackle Sheldon Richardson,” Cabot wrote.
Pro Football Focus’ Mark Chichester listed the Cowboys, Patriots, Colts, Texans and Seahawks as potential landing spots for McCoy.
Barnwell also mentioned Pierce as one of the key players the Ravens should work to re-sign this offseason, along with Matthew Judon and Patrick Onwuasor. Pierce is considered one of the top up-and-coming defensive tackles and will be an unrestricted free-agent in 2020.
Brandt Ranks Ravens as Most Vulnerable Division Champs
There’s been plenty of discussion this offseason surrounding which team will end up at the top of the AFC North.
We’re still over three months away from the start of the season, but the takes continue to roll in.
The Ravens claimed the division crown last season on the heels of a late-season run, and the reigning champs will contend for back-to-back division titles for the first time since 2011-2012, but NFL.com’s Gil Brandt isn’t entirely convinced.
Brandt ranked the Ravens as the most vulnerable division winners heading into the 2019 season.
“The quarterback drama might be settled, but there is even more uncertainty this offseason,” Brandt wrote. “Can Jackson take the next step as a passer under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman? On defense, Baltimore signed Earl Thomas to replace Eric Weddle. But the team also suffered significant losses in the front seven and pass-rushing corps, with Terrell Suggs, Za'Darius Smith and C.J. Mosley all heading for greener pastures -- and the Ravens are relying on younger players and free-agent stopgaps to fill the void.”
The Browns have received plenty of hype this offseason after making significant additions to their roster.
Oddsmakers have Freddie Kitchens’ crew as the betting favorite to win the AFC North this season, but the Steelers were Brandt’s pick to dethrone the Ravens.
It was “a virtual toss-up,” but Brandt sided with the experience at quarterback.
“The Browns are ascending, and Pittsburgh has been a perennial contender for almost all of the Ben Roethlisberger-Mike Tomlin era,” Brandt wrote. “The Steelers are facing something of a transition year, with running back Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown both gone, but it would be silly to write them off at this point.”
That’s also where Bleacher Report’s Connor Rogers had the Ravens. Rogers offered strong words in a spirited rant on BR’s “Stick to Football” podcast, calling the Ravens “the most disrespected team in the NFL this offseason.”
“You would never know that they finished 10-6 last year, you’d never know it,” Rodgers said. “Because all you hear about in that division is the drama with the Steelers and the new Browns.
“They get no love, ever. They didn’t get any love last offseason [and] they won the division. They’re completely being discounted this year.”
Weddle Remains Loyal to Baltimore, Even in L.A.
It’s going to be weird seeing Eric Weddle sporting a different uniform this season, but the veteran safety is still staying loyal to his former team.
Weddle recently sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit for an in-depth film session on SI TV’s “The Big Interview.”
On a particular disguised coverage play with cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr, Weddle wouldn’t give away any of the Ravens’ defensive tactics when Benoit asked how that’s communicated.
“I can’t give all of those secrets away,” Weddle said.
“You don’t play for them anymore,” Benoit responded.
“Those are my guys though,” Weddle said. “Can never turn [my] back on my guys over there.”
Weddle was regarded as one of the most well-liked players in the locker room during three seasons in Baltimore, and it’s not hard to see why.
The Ravens face off against Weddle and the Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 12, but there won’t be any foul play involved, Weddle says.
“I would hope you will tell [Rams Head Coach] Sean McVay before the Monday night game what they were doing,” Benoit said.
“I wouldn’t,” Weddle said. “I mean, Coach McVay knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t need much.”
“I don’t believe you,” Benoit said.
“Well, you don’t know me then,” Weddle responded. “What kind of man would I be if I rat out my guys that I played three years with?”
‘Jeopardy!’ Champion Is About to Surpass Lamar Jackson
“Jeopardy!” champion James Holzhauer extended his streak to 24 wins last night and he may have an unlikely connection to Lamar Jackson, as The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer pointed out.
“The two are different in many ways, but they do share a key to success: Holzhauer has missed on only 3% of his responses,” Shaffer wrote. “Jackson is focused on his accuracy now, too.”
- How committed will the Ravens be to the run game? NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman listed it as the most burning offseason question in Baltimore.