Browns GM John Dorsey is believed to have a post-draft interest in former All-Pro DT Gerald McCoy, who led Tampa Bay with 21 QB hits in 2018, and Bucs are in need of a RB

Now that the Browns have coursed through the early trading, free agency and draft cycles, the sense of whether 2019 is the time to "go for it" has changed.

Twice in an interview after becoming the team's top draft pick last week, cornerback Greedy Williams predicted the Browns are going to Super Bowl 54 (that's the next one).

If you ask general manager John Dorsey about "going for it," his response might be coy. Behind the scenes, Dorsey might not be finished trying to microwave a contender.

Pre-draft reports out of Tampa Bay said the Buccaneers would gladly trade veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy if the price was deemed right. The draft came and went with McCoy still on the roster.

Dorsey's interest in McCoy is believed to be ongoing, and the Buccaneers likely still have an appetite for getting value from him for the program new pilot Bruce Arians is building.

McCoy, who turned 31 shortly after Super Bowl 53, was a big star at Baker Mayfield's alma mater, Oklahoma, before becoming the No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 draft. McCoy made first team All-Pro in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and at one point went to six straight Pro Bowls, the last of them after the 2017 season.

In 2018, McCoy had six sacks and a team-high 21 quarterback hits, playing 70 percent of Tampa Bay's defensive downs (732 overall).

An Oklahoma native, McCoy has played all nine of his NFL seasons with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is in a salary-cap squeeze into which an aging defensive tackle with one year left on his contract, at $13 million, does not fit.

The Browns have wiggle room and a player who might fit the tricky economics of a trade involving two veterans, in addition to addressing a Bucs need. Running back Duke Johnson signed a Browns contract extension last year that, according to Spotrac, has them on the hook for salary cap hits of $4.05 million this year, $4.85 million in 2020 and $5.9 million in 2021.

The Bucs' three leading rushers in 2018 were Peyton Barber with 871 yards (3.7 average), quarterback Jamies Winston with 281 yards and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with 152 yards. Tampa Bay's post-draft running back depth chart appears to be Barber (undrafted in 2016) at No. 1, Ronald Jones (23 carries, 44 yards, as a rookie Round 2 draft pick in 2018) at No. 2, and Shaun Wilson (undrafted in 2018) at No. 3.

Johnson, who turns 26 in September, has rushed for 1,286 yards (4.3 average) and caught 235 passes (9.2 average) since joining the Browns as a Round 3 pick out of Miami (Fla.) in 2015.

Prior to the draft, Arians told reporters McCoy would be Tampa Bay's starting three-technique tackle for new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles if he remained on the team in 2019. Arians made it clear it was a big "if."

"The financial is a big part of it,” Arians said late last month, via Tampa Bay Times beat man Rick Stroud. “I've got to evaluate him. I mean, guys when they age, it’s different.

“Usually they’re at the age when they get paid the most and the production doesn’t match.

“It’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. It’s hard. It’s cold. That’s it."

The Bucs are reshaping their defense and spent their top five draft picks on defenders, topped by linebacker Devin White (Greedy Williams' former LSU teammate) at No. 5 overall.

Dorsey has a stacked defensive line after adding Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson to a group featuring 2017 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett. The other projected starter is Larry Ogunjobi, a third-round pick by the Sashi Brown regime in 2017. Depth is an issue following the recent trading of Emmanuel Ogbah.

Dorsey is believed to be entertaining the thought of taking the D-line rotation to a next level by acquiring McCoy. It is thought Dorsey is neither in the same rush to acquire McCoy as he was before making the blockbuster trade for Odell Beckham, and doesn't need to be.

If the Bucs can't trade McCoy, he would become available if they cut him, at which point he could choose his team rather than being bound to one in a trade.

Dorsey hasn't been shy about dealing previous regimes' picks for other teams' players. He parlayed DeShone Kizer into safety Damarious Randall, used Jabrill Peppers as a key chip in the Beckham deal, and most recently sent Ogbah to the Chiefs for safety Eric Murray.

He has been willing to part with players who might have been of use to the 2019 Browns (prime example: Peppers) in exchange for players who might make a bigger difference.

 

Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or steve.doerschukREP

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP