Late for Work 6/4: Why Gerald McCoy Chose the Panthers Over Ravens

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Ravens Reportedly Offered McCoy Twice as Much Guaranteed Money as Panthers

Ultimately, it wasn't about the money for Gerald McCoy.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Ravens reportedly offered the coveted free agent defensive tackle twice as much money as the Carolina Panthers, the team McCoy agreed to sign with yesterday. McCoy's deal reportedly is for one year, $8 million, with just $4 million guaranteed.

Before visiting the Panthers last Friday, McCoy had what were described as great visits with the Ravens and Cleveland Browns, and both teams expressed optimism in signing the six-time Pro Bowl selection. Apparently, the Ravens were especially close to landing him.

"Gerald McCoy left Baltimore thinking he very well might sign there," ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted. "But Carolina wowed him on his visit; Cam Newton helped recruit McCoy big time, per source."

So why did McCoy choose the Panthers?

The fact that McCoy, by remaining in the NFC South, gets to play against his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, twice this season just might have had something to do with it.

The Buccaneers released McCoy after nine seasons two weeks ago with three years remaining on his contract. McCoy would've made $13 million with Tampa Bay this season.

After cutting McCoy, the Buccaneers signed free agent Ndamukong Suh to a one-year, $9.25 million deal to replace him and gave Suh McCoy's old number (93, which Suh wore with the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins).

"It just wasn't a fit," Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians said during an appearance on ESPN after McCoy's release. "Whether it was financial, whatever, on the field, you know, it just didn't fit."

Geography also may have been a factor in McCoy choosing Carolina over Baltimore and Cleveland.

"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," Rapoport tweeted. "Loved both teams, wasn't sure about both cities."

The silver lining for Ravens fans is that McCoy, who Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti described as a "game-wrecker" last week, didn't go to AFC North rival Cleveland. The Ravens do not play the Panthers this season.

And as much as the Ravens obviously wanted McCoy, the defensive line appears to be solid without him.

"Despite Baltimore's spirited effort to lure McCoy, the team does carry sturdy depth on the defensive line," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote. "Defensive tackles Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce remain two of the team's more established players, while Chris Wormley, Willie Henry and group of unproven D-lineman are in position to compete for snaps.

"McCoy's decision to veer away from the Ravens opens more opportunities for rookies like Daylon Mack and Jaylon Ferguson to earn playing time. Zach Sieler, a 2018 seventh-round pick, also has a chance to win a spot in a rotation up front."

Kasinitz also noted that the Ravens will "move forward with about $13 million in salary cap space and an outlook of financial flexibility for the next few years."

Remembering Steve Smith Sr.'s 'Revenge Game'

Regardless of whether revenge played a role in McCoy signing with the Panthers, revenge games do seem to be a thing. With that in mind, SB Nation's Charles McDonald ranked the best revenge games in the NFL in the past 25 years.

At No. 5 on the list was the 2014 game in which then-Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. faced his former team, the Panthers, who had released him after 13 seasons.

"In Week 4 of the 2014 season, Carolina traveled to Baltimore to face off against the former Panther great and he absolutely shredded them," McDonald wrote. "Smith caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ravens rolled to a 38-10 win.

"The highlight of Smith's afternoon was catching a 61-yard touchdown that wasn't even intended for him. The ball bounced off of Owen Daniels' hands and Smith just happened to be in the right place at the right time to leave his former team in the dust."

As for revenge games involving the Ravens this season, NFL.com's Dan Hanzus' list of 10 "juiciest revenge games" included Ravens safety Earl Thomas going to Seattle to play his former team in Week 7.

"It was an ignominious end to what had been a brilliant run in Seattle, including six Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring in nine seasons," Hanzus wrote. "Thomas is now the crown jewel of the Baltimore Ravens' secondary. You think he'll be amped to be hitting humans wearing Seahawks helmets in his return to Seattle?"

Pro Bowl Season Predicted for Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram went to two Pro Bowls (2014, 2017) during his eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints. NFL analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks expect the Ravens running back to return to the all-star game this season.

"He's going to get the rock early, he's going to get the rock often," Jeremiah said on his "Move the Sticks" podcast. "They are going to run the living daylights out of the football in Baltimore. If Mark Ingram's not a Pro Bowler I'll be shocked."

Brooks concurred.

"Oh, I expect him to," Brooks said. "They're going to run it so much that it won't be just a one-man show, but Mark Ingram will certainly be the bell cow when it comes to the Ravens offense."

If Ingram does make it to the Pro Bowl, he might see a familiar face on the opposite sideline in Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback said recently that he's going to miss playing with Ingram.

"I'm thankful I had a chance to play with a guy like that for eight years," Brees said, per 247 Sports' James Parks. "He was all heart and soul. He was the guy that we love being around. He's a guy who I look forward to seeing the most coming into the facility every day."

It seems that Saints players are definitely feeling the loss, as Alvin Kamara also said he "definitely miss[es] him." On a side note, Ingram apparently has another supporter in Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins.

After the Warriors' victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, Cousins took off his jersey and gave it to Ingram. Cousins played with the New Orleans Pelicans from 2016-2018.

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