The question seems to be more about when and how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will move on from Gerald McCoy, not if. For the Cleveland Browns, their question is whether they’ve done enough to seize the moment (2019 NFL Season) or not.
There’s an answer to both questions and it’s as simple as trading Gerald McCoy to the Cleveland Browns, and there’s only one thing standing between the two sides and making a move which makes too much sense to not happen: Stubbornness.
First, let’s look at why this works for the Cleveland Browns.
This team was once on a five-year plan which was initiated in January of 2016. Three seasons later, the plan has been scrapped and switched for a one-year plan. The acceleration of the plan came for many reasons, but one of the main catalysts for the push the team is making this off-season is both the rise of Baker Mayfield and the fall of everyone else in the AFC North.
The Cincinnati Bengals look more like the Browns of recent memory than anyone else. The Baltimore Ravens were in the playoffs, but weren’t what most would call a ‘playoff team’ in 2018. With their mostly one-dimensional offense and less than impressive defense heading into 2019, they’re certainly vulnerable to a drop this year.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers should have had a worse record than they ended with in 2018 as it is, and there’s no telling just how this team is going to come out after all of the drama they’ve been through in the last 48 months.
Now is the time. Not next year, or the year after. The window is most open right now, and there’s no reason to bank on the window being more open next year or in 2021 if you’re the Cleveland Browns.
Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Myles Garrett....Gerald McCoy.
The cost of adding McCoy is more money than anyone wants to pay. This much is obvious considering the Buccaneers haven’t been able to move him at his current salary. But Cleveland can afford it, at least for one season. And the beautiful part of adding McCoy under his current contract is, if it doesn’t work out or if he won’t take a pay cut to stay with the team in 2020, then the team can move him with no dead money.
Bottom line, he adds to the push the Browns have already made in 2019 and his price tag doesn’t hinder anything they likely have planned moving forward - at least in this season, which is where they should be thinking considering McCoy.
Now, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you’ve listened to any of the episodes where James Yarcho and I have discussed Gerald McCoy on the Locked On Bucs Podcast, then you know where I stand on this.
He didn’t create the losing aura hanging around the AdventHealth Training Center, but he’s still a part of it. When you have molded bread, you don’t cut out the unmolded spot, you throw the whole thing out. And like it or not, McCoy is the longest tenured Buc who’s time on the team dates back to the beginning of this most recent playoff drought. Every other big piece (Lavonte David, Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, etc.) are guys who have been brought in mid-drought identified as guys who are trying to bring the rain (wins).
It’s not reason enough for some Bucs fans, I get it, but this isn’t the point. After all, it’s clear the Bucs coaches and staff are looking to move forward without him. And not necessarily for the reasons I just mentioned. In fact, I’d venture to say their reasons are much more play and pay related.
If the issue is pay and play, then one would assume McCoy has been asked about a pay cut and has refused. I don’t blame him necessarily. Like many have eluded to before, if Gil Arcia asked me to take a pay cut and perform at the same level, I’d kindly refuse as well. And I’m not being asked to give up millions.
So we know why it makes sense to move McCoy, or if it doesn’t make sense I hope you’ve come to grips with the reality the Buccaneers are trying to move on from him.
Now to the stubbornness. The Browns need McCoy - yes need - and the Bucs need to move McCoy sooner rather than later. To be clear, I have no knowledge of the Browns and Bucs having talked about this trade in the first place.
But with multiple reports coming out of Ohio about Cleveland having their eyes on McCoy, it’s hard to believe they haven’t had a cup of coffee or talked over a cup of coffee.
The hold up is going to be compensation. The Browns likely aren’t using McCoy’s price tag as a deal breaker as much as they’re using it as a bargaining chip. Trying to lower the Buccaneers’ asking price because of the inflated salary.
For Tampa Bay, they’re likely using the popularity of McCoy’s name along with what he adds to the current Browns roster as an accelerator for their defense in it’s current form.
And this is how we get to stalemates. Perceived or otherwise.
So, here’s the outside-looking-in-never-been-a-part-of-real-nfl-trade-negotiation-easy-for-me-to-say-or-write answer.
Meet in the middle gentlemen. If the Browns want to surrender Duke Johnson only and the Buccaneers want Johnson and a 2020 5th-Round Pick, then let’s meet at Johnson and a 2020 6th-Round Pick for McCoy and a 2020 7th-Round Pick.
Browns fans want him, (some) Bucs fans want to get closure on this and move on.
Cleveland needs him to help put this major 2019 push together, and Tampa Bay needs to close this out so they can move forward without having the cloud of what will or won’t happen with one of their franchise’s marquee players hanging over their heads. Although a little shade in the Tampa summer might be appreciated.
Oh, and don’t forget, trading McCoy is the only way they can ensure he won’t go sign with a Super Bowl contender within the division (Hello, New Orleans). Again, not a strong bargaining position for Licht, but it is what it is. From Cleveland’s perspective though, would McCoy rather sign as a newly released free-agent in northern Ohio for a team with a whole lot of hype? Or would he rather play in a dome for a team who has proven they can make it to the big one AND plays his former team twice?
Simply, a trade is the only way McCoy lands in Cleveland, from where I stand.
Type-A personalities are notorious for their intensity and ability to hold their ground. Well, we’re past ground holding, and into stubborn determination. Both sides need to make this happen, and a trade is likely the only way it’s getting done. So let’s get this done.