The Cleveland Browns came into this offseason with a big weakness on the defensive line, especially on the interior. The team addressed the edge position with the addition of Olivier Vernon and the interior with the addition of Sheldon Richardson. However, Cleveland had a huge depth issue in the interior defensive line, so the team was in need of multiple players at the spot. But, even when the 2019 NFL Draft had a very deep class of defensive tackles, the Browns came out of the draft without taking one interior defensive lineman. The position is now one of the more glaring needs on the roster, especially on defense. With that said, the Browns may have fallen into a great situation by staying patient, as the six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy hits the free agency market after his release from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McCoy and the Browns may be the perfect match for each other. Let’s start with the Browns side of things: They currently have two really good interior defensive linemen in Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson. Beyond those two, the team does not have a reliable interior defensive lineman on the roster. Brian Price, Trevon Coley and the slew of others at the position do not pose any great options for the team. The Browns needed more quality defensive lineman in the depth chart, ones that can make plays when they are counted on. McCoy has already made it known that he would like to sign with a team that has playoff aspirations, a team like Cleveland according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Former Buccaneers' DT Gerald McCoy wants to sign with a playoff contender, and of course make money. But he wants to win. Spots that would make sense include the Browns, the Patriots, the Chargers, the Jaguars, and the Cowboys amongst others.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 20, 2019
McCoy would be a third starter with the Browns, maybe not in name, but in terms of playing time. Cleveland can rotate Richardson, Ogunjobi, and McCoy to form one of the most impressive interior defensive line trios in the league. McCoy is still a player who can be a disruptive force, affecting both the run and pass game. He can help instill even more pass rush talent to a defense that needed it last season. His versatility to move across the line of scrimmage would be another big asset for the defensive line unit. McCoy’s talent would just be a really welcoming sign to see at this position.
One of the other low-key positives that this addition would give the Browns defense is the ability to shuffle their defensive line lineup without losing performance level. Last season, Ogunjobi was run into the ground because of the lack of talent at the interior defensive line spot. Ogunjobi had to stay on the field because the coaches just did not have confidence in any of the other players in his unit. This hurt Ogunjobi as the year went on because it was quite visible that he wore down with all the mileage he was putting on each game. With Richardson and hopefully McCoy, the Browns can shuffle those three, while sprinkling in the other backups for smaller stints to allow this unit to stay fresh and not be worn down throughout the season.
I also think McCoy fits the culture of this Browns team. He is an outspoken player with a unique personality. The Browns are full of players like that and I think the Browns culture is very warming and comfortable with these types of players. He would fit right in with how the Browns are building their roster.
For McCoy, I think the Browns are a great match for him, too. He can get the money he is looking for as the Browns have the cap space to meet his needs. Cleveland also gives him the playing time that he would want, while also allowing him to sit out enough throughout games to ensure his health. He may not be considered a so-called “starter”, but he would receive starting level snaps if the Browns run the rotation correctly. He can also stay fresher in this rotation, which is key for the aging interior defensive line to prolong his career. And, the final aspect is the winning aspect is that the Browns are in a position to win now. This may be new for Browns fans, but the Browns are ready to compete and to battle for the playoffs. This would fit the needs of McCoy, who is expected to want a team with winning aspirations. McCoy and the Browns are matches made in heaven.