McCoy Ready To Help Make Carolina A Contender

Jason Huber
June 04, 2019 - 5:33 pm

It's not often that the Carolina Panthers make as high-profile of a free agent signing that they made on Monday.

It's also not often that a six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle hits the open market so late in the NFL offseason.

When defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on May 20, after nine seasons with them, Carolina saw the opportunity to add another proven lineman to their newly formed 3-4 defensive scheme.

“It was a grade A organization,” McCoy said. “This organization is known for its ability to be resilient. They’ve always had a history of finding a way to fight through and push through. I just wanted to be a part of that.”

The addition of McCoy adds onto Carolina's three-man defensive front alongside Kawann Short and Dontari Poe. That's a combined 10 Pro Bowls and a huge upgrade from 2016 first-rounder Vernon Butler, and Kyle Love.

If head coach Ron Rivera decides to rotate with a 4-3 defense, McCoy’s presence brings depth with Pro Bowler Mario Addison, former Pro Bowler Bruce Irvin and rookies Brian Burns, and Christian Miller as the team’s defensive end options.

“Every ounce of me feels that this team is a true contender,” McCoy said. “The NFC South champs is the New Orleans Saints. They have a great offense. In order to take them out, you have to have a great defense. Carolina is known to have a great defense. I want to add to that.”

Signing McCoy brings at least a hope that the Panthers interior defense could return to the elite form that led them to the Super Bowl in 2015.

“Being a defensive lineman requires you to be a swift-army knife,” McCoy said. “You have to be able to play everything. I think coach (Eric) Washington has a great plan in place. When you have a guy like Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson behind you, they’ll make you right.”

It also brings a veteran player that could help fill the void of defensive leadership with the team moving on from linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Julius Peppers.

“I’m going to just be me,” McCoy said. “I have a few tricks up my sleeve that now I can help another group with.”

The addition of one player doesn't always make a team an instant Super Bowl contender, especially a 31-year old like McCoy, who is coming off one of his worst statistical seasons.

But for McCoy, a down season still consisted of six sacks and 28 total tackles, which is still a notable improvement for Carolina's interior defense.

“Gerald is good. Just like KK (Kawann Short), dominant,” defensive end Mario Addison said. “I’ve seen how he can just dominate people. He wins by technique. He has a plan every time he does something.”

The Panthers ranked 27th in the league last season with 35 sacks, their lowest since 2011, and allowed 416 yards rushing per game. Carolina had been in the top six in sacks the prior three seasons.

Short's three sacks were the most by an interior lineman last season for Carolina.

"Kawann has been dominant since he set foot in the league," McCoy said. "We can be one of the better tandems in the NFL."

Additionally, the Panthers are happy just to have McCoy on their side facing his former team twice this season.

McCoy has 4.5 career sacks against Carolina, the second-most against any team he has faced.

“I’ve been quoted as saying Cam (Newton) is the best escape artist in the league,” McCoy said. “Now I can watch him do it to other people. Cam’s not a small human and he’s not easy to get down. I’m gonna smile on the sideline.”

With the Buccaneers giving away his No. 93 to newly signed tackle Ndamukong Suh and stating that they didn’t have the need for him anymore, possible revenge could be sweet.

“It’s great to have Gerald on our side now,” general manager Marty Hurney said. “We are very familiar with his skill set after facing him over the years and know that he not only brings a wealth of talent as a player but is also a tremendous person."

The signing alone still proves that the Panthers under new owner David Tepper, and Hurney back for a second stint, Carolina won't make conservative decisions.

“The fact that players were welcoming to me and I heard that the guys were pushing them ‘Go get this guy,’ that’s what you want to hear,” McCoy said. “The respect they have for you and I have the same respect for them, I’m excited to see what happens.”

Comments ()