Big ticket free agency in the NFL occurs in March, the NFL Draft occurs in April, so needless to say, the opportunity to materially improve your football team dwindles significantly once May rolls around. Yet, on Tuesday, the Tampa Buccaneers, smushed up against the ceiling of the NFL's salary cap, presented the other 31 teams the opportunity to get better in the defensive front seven.
Gerald McCoy, a nine year veteran and six time Pro Bowler, was released by the Bucs on Tuesday, when they couldn't find a trade suitor to take on his $13 million annual salary. McCoy has been one of the more durable and productive defensive linemen in the league since arriving in 2010 as the third overall selection in the draft. Over his nine seasons, he has averaged 15 games played and just north of seven sacks per season, nice numbers considering the position he plays.
So the only question that we really care about here in Houston is "Should the Houston Texans make a move to sign Gerald McCoy?" I say, "HELL YES!" With over $40 million in salary cap space still available, the Texans have the MONEY to sign anybody they want to. The bigger question is "Would McCoy want to come to Houston?", and that all depends on how high a priority winning a Super Bowl is for him. Let's face it — the Texans are good, but far from the chalk to make a Super Bowl run that other likely suitors, like New England and New Orleans, might be.
But if you're Texans GM Brian Gaine, you've got to entertain the idea of McCoy in Texans' colors, and here are the four reasons why:
Generating an interior pass rush
Outside of offensive line and cornerback help, the biggest need on the Houston Texans' roster heading into this offseason might have been finding a person who can generate a pass rush from the interior of the defensive line. By and large, the Texans' defensive tackles are big, fat, run-stopping dudes, which is fine. They're good at their jobs. But there are going to be games where teams can slow down J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. That's where a veteran hand like McCoy would come in really handy. The Texans have a slew of productive veteran quarterbacks on their opposing schedule this season, and the best way to slow them down is to make sure they can't step into their throws.
Locker room influence
When O'Brien is asked about any individual player, the first thing he brings up isn't his on-field talent and productivity. It's about what a good guy and great teammate that person is. The message is clear — the Texans don't have the stomach for locker room cancers. McCoy is about as genuine and thoughtful as an NFL player could be. He was a great leader in Tampa Bay, and a fixture in the community. Here's a clip from HBO's Hard Knocks a couple years ago. If you can't get behind this guy, then that's a "you" problem!
Helping out the Texans' offensive line
As we've outlined on nearly a daily basis this offseason, the Texans have offensive line issues, issues they hope to resolve with some personnel changes and general improvement and player development. One thing that could help incrementally would be to have the Texans' guards and centers going against a six-time Pro Bowler every day in practice. Iron sharpens iron, and having McCoy trying to collapse the pocket on Deshaun Watson in the dog days of summer would help the young interior offensive linemen improve.
Game of Thrones!
This last one is purely selfish, but like me, Gerald McCoy is a gigantic Game of Thrones nerd, so much so that he had a design artist make him a special pair of Thrones cleats:
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I must find out first hand if McCoy has the same hot GoT takes that Green Bay Packers QB (and GoT series finale extra) Aaron Rodgers has:
Aaron Rodgers with an absolutely perfect take on the Game of Thrones series finale sucking. pic.twitter.com/am3084Z6TG— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 21, 2019