Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recently made his choice to sign with the Panthers after being released by the Buccaneers. The decision came after McCoy had also visited with the Browns and Ravens, but there was also reported mutual interest between the Bengals and McCoy’s camp. The Bengals President of player personnel, Duke Tobin shared some vague thoughts on how things went down between the two.
“Free agency is always a two-way street and guys have multiple options,” Tobin told Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. “There are times we express interest and if the interest is reciprocated we try to make something work. The things that don’t happen, there’s more than just that one. There’s a lot of things you go through the exercise and they don’t come about. Sometimes they do. I won’t get real specific on guys that aren’t here or don’t come. He apparently had plenty of suitors and options and took his time and I guess made the decision that was right for him.”
Tobin is very fair in his statement. It seems pretty obvious to anyone who followed McCoy’s visits that if he and the Bengals had any contact, it was minimal at best. It also seems McCoy’s interest in the Bengals probably just wasn’t that high.
It is fair to say that outside of McCoy and the teams directly involved, no one probably knows the whole story. We can try to piece together a probable reality though given the information we do have.
It appears that even though it seemed like McCoy probably did have some level of interest in the Bengals, they weren’t one of his top teams. If they were, they would’ve at least gotten a visit given how he clearly took his time to make this decision.
It does appear that Carolina knocked McCoy’s socks off during his visit there; a visit that seemed very bare bones. It consisted of breakfast with the Panthers’ head coach, Ron Rivera, followed by a vegan lunch with Panther players and then a casual chat with the General Manager, Marty Hurney.
Given the rumors and statements that have come out since, McCoy did see himself signing with the Ravens. He also may have left more money on the table by turning down an offer from Baltimore or Cleveland.
When you look at all of this it seems pretty easy to see that the Bengals probably were more of a fallback plan more than anything, and honestly, you can’t blame for McCoy for thinking that. He wanted to go to a team he felt had a chance at competing (also playing his former team twice has to be a plus). Though he did mention he expects the Bengals to be better this year, the lack of actual recent success may’ve been a countering factor.
It is at least a positive note that the Bengals even showed interest in trying to sign McCoy, which may not have been the case in previous seasons. The cold hard truth is that until they start showing they can compete again, free agents like McCoy will constantly place Cincinnati as a fail-safe plain rather than a desired location.
Hopefully, this new era of Bengals football is able to create that positive image of Cincinnati.