CLEVELAND — The Browns’ interest in Gerald McCoy is real.
And it’s reciprocated.
McCoy, the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, will visit the Browns on Friday, general manager John Dorsey said Thursday at a news conference on Public Square celebrating the announcement Cleveland will host the 2021 NFL Draft.
“He’s a good player,” Dorsey said of McCoy, who was released Monday after nine years with the Buccaneers. “Like I’ve always told y’all I will turn over every stone, and it just so happens he may be in the city of Cleveland tomorrow.”
Dorsey then confirmed the visit.
The Buccaneers tried to trade McCoy but couldn’t find a team willing to take his $13 million salary. The Bucs replaced him with Ndamukong Suh, who signed a one-year deal Thursday worth a reported $9.25 million.
It’s fair to assume McCoy, the No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft — Suh was No. 2 — will seek at least that much money.
The Browns don’t have a desperate need at tackle after signing free agent Sheldon Richardson to a three-year, $37 million deal in March with $21 million guaranteed. Larry Ogunjobi is the other projected starter, and end Myles Garrett predicted Ogunjobi would make the Pro Bowl in 2019.
Dorsey was asked how the 31-year-old McCoy would fit on a line that also features end Olivier Vernon, who was acquired from the Giants in a March trade.
“Well, the thing is, it’s a chance for us to kind of get a chance to meet each other one-on-one and let’s find out who Gerald is,” Dorsey said. “And it also gives Gerald a chance to see who the Cleveland Browns are and what direction we’re headed. With regards to his ability to play the game of football, he can still play the game of football.”
McCoy had six sacks in 14 games in 2018, ending a streak of six straight Pro Bowls. In 123 starts and games, he has 54.5 sacks, 296 tackles, 79 tackles for loss and 140 quarterback hits.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken spent the last three seasons in the same role with Tampa Bay. He said Wednesday he had been asked about McCoy by the front office.
“I think a lot of Gerald,” he said. “Gerald has had a tremendous career and was an outstanding football player for us. He’s a great person.
“Other than that, there were some other things that we talked about, but I like Gerald a lot.”
McCoy reportedly is looking to land with a playoff contender after not reaching the postseason in the nine seasons in Tampa Bay. Cleveland.com reported the Browns and Ravens are on McCoy’s short list, while the Colts, Chargers Cowboys and Bengals have also been mentioned as possible suitors.
Garrett is protective of and loyal to his teammates — he didn’t want the Browns to draft end Bradley Chubb in 2018 because they had Emmanuel Ogbah — and said Tuesday the Browns would be fine without McCoy.
“What they decide to do, I’ll be OK with and I’ll accept it and move on, but I think we’re good with what we have,” he said. “I’m always going to be passionate about the guys we have in the locker room because they’ve always been OK with me, they’ve always done right by me, so I have no problem playing with them, going out there and sweating, bleeding and winning with them.”
For the right price, McCoy would add impressive experience and talent to a rebuilt line that is supposed to be the strength of the defense on a team confident it will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
Dorsey was pressed on if the Browns could sign McCoy after adding Richardson.
“Like I keep telling you, we’re going to turn over every rock and let’s just see what happens,” he said. “I mean, it’s just a visit.”
Running back Duke Johnson hasn’t attended any of the eight-week voluntary offseason program, and Dorsey said they haven’t talked.
Johnson requested a trade after the Browns signed running back Kareem Hunt, who will begin the season serving an eight-game suspension. The Browns haven’t gotten an offer they like, and Dorsey and coach Freddie Kitchens continue to say Johnson will be a “vital” part of the offense this season.
Dorsey expects Johnson to show up for mandatory minicamp June 4-6.
“Uh, yeah, it’s mandatory,” Dorsey said.