CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - The Carolina Panthers may have lost two former Pro Bowlers on defense from last season’s roster, but they just made one of the offseason’s most-notable signings.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will sign a one-year deal with the Panthers, a league source confirmed to the Observer on Monday, reportedly worth $8.5 million. The decision comes after McCoy visited the Panthers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns after the Bucs released him May 20.
The six-time Pro Bowler gives head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Eric Washington five defensive players with at least one Pro Bowl selection under their belt. Before the signing was announced, Rivera spoke briefly about the team’s visit with McCoy.
“I thought it was received very well,” Rivera said after a practice Monday. “Gerald is a solid football player and a guy we most certainly are interested in and would love to have here and be part of what we’re doing. He’s going through the process, so we’re just waiting patiently to see what the outcome is going to be.”
A first-team All-Pro selection in 2013, McCoy has been one of the NFL’s most consistent interior defensive linemen since the Buccaneers took him third overall in 2010. His 54.5 career sacks and 79 tackles for a loss both rank fifth in the league since 2010.
Carolina cleared out nearly $9 million in cap space over the past week after Matt Kalil’s post-June 1 release took effect and wide receiver Torrey Smith agreed to restructure his contract.
“Carolina was a great fit for me. Being around the guys we just meshed & I love the instant chemistry we had,” McCoy texted ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “They hv a tradition of having a great defense. I love the players & I believe in #1. Rivera is a proven coach & can’t wait to get started.”
The Panthers are already strong at defensive tackle with Pro Bowlers Kawann Short and Dontari Poe on roster. In theory, all three could be on the field at the same time when the team rolls out the 3-4 scheme it’s installing this offseason — Short and McCoy as three-technique down lineman and Poe as a nose tackle.
Unlike the Browns, who added Pro Bowlers Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson to their defense this offseason, and the Ravens, who made the playoffs in 2018, the Panthers offered McCoy an opportunity to remain in the South — and also a crack at the team who released him before allowing his replacement to wear his old number. Carolina hosts Tampa Bay in Week 2 in a primetime Thursday Night Football matchup.
The teams also play each other at Totenham Hotspur Stadium in London in Week 6.
The Panthers sought to improve their speed on defense this offseason, which led to their release of cornerback Captian Munnerlyn and decision not to retain linebacker Thomas Davis and free safety Mike Adams. The perceived defensive retooling was helped along when franchise sack leader Julius Peppers announced his retirement in January. Both Peppers and Davis made multiple Pro Bowl teams.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.