The biggest names on the move this NFL offseason
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut defensive tackle Gerald McCoy earlier this month, the Carolina Panthers wasted no time in expressing their interest in him.
The Panthers inquired about bringing McCoy in to visit their facilities and staff, a league source told the Observer this week — a question that went from unanswered to a yes, the source said Wednesday night. McCoy’s visit will happen on Thursday and Friday, the source said.
McCoy spent the past two days in Baltimore, according to reports, and visited Cleveland before that.
A visit to Carolina despite spending substantial time in Baltimore is notable. The Panthers have not been shy about expressing their interest, the league source said, but were waiting to hear whether McCoy left Baltimore without a contract.
The No. 3 overall pick in 2010, McCoy, 31, played his entire career in Tampa Bay and earned Pro Bowl honors six times as well as All-Pro honors once, before the Bucs released him to clear $13 million in cap space.
In Carolina, McCoy would almost certainly be an impact starter right away. The Panthers will return Kawann Short and Dontari Poe as starters in their now more frequently used 3-4 front, and had former first-round pick Vernon Butler slated to start alongside them when in a three-man front.
But if they ultimately are able to heavily pursue McCoy, the Panthers are making it clear that he would be a much more promising option for them than Butler — who has largely been a rotational player, and whose fifth-year option the team declined to pick up last month.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that McCoy has been pursued with offers as high as $11 million.
Carolina has some salary cap wiggle-room becoming available in just a few days — though that number might still be a little high.
Because they designated former left tackle Matt Kalil as a post-June 1 cut, the Panthers will have an extra $7.5 million in cap space — giving them about $16 million in cap space that could feasibly be directed toward McCoy.
General manager Marty Hurney has said that the team has “options” should they bump up too closely against the cap, however.
The Panthers also must still sign their first- and second-round draft picks, defensive end Brian Burns and offensive tackle Greg Little.
If McCoy and the Panthers agreed to terms, he’d also be facing his former team of nine seasons twice a year, including this fall in London.