The Browns' interest in Gerald McCoy remains real.

We reported the interest shortly after GM John Dorsey came away from the draft without having picked a defensive lineman.

We believe the team remains quite interested in adding the six-time Pro Bowler to what could be a championship defensive line.

We also believe the Browns continue to view obtaining McCoy as realistic, with the issue not tied to his projected production, but to money issues that have a chance to be resolved.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers owe McCoy $13 million if he is with them in 2019 and have him under contract for a bit less than $13 million for 2020 and 2021.

More than likely, no one else in the league (Browns included) would touch that, and the cap-strapped Buccaneers flat out can't afford it.

A neck injury suffered by Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in a single-car crash this week doesn't change the Browns' interest in McCoy, or the Buccaneers' difficulty in paying McCoy, if they even want to.

It becomes a waiting game. The Buccaneers can hope to get something for McCoy in a trade, which presumably would include the defensive tackle accepting in advance a reworked contract.

It gets complicated if the Bucs carry McCoy into training camp trying to ride out the possibility of a trade. If no swap is done, they would either have to find a way to fit him into a near-impossible budget, or release him while getting nothing in return, at which point he would become a free agent.

It is clear the Browns are interested in McCoy. It is clear they think they have a chance.

It is less clear what course they are following to get him, and whether they believe he could be secured as a free agent.

The Buccaneers are weak at running back, and the Browns might deem Duke Johnson somewhat expendable, but that is a dicey situation for the Browns, who need help behind Nick Chubb while Kareem Hunt serves an eight-game suspension.

Recently, Joe Thomas joined the Browns' in-house radio show to talk about McCoy. Thomas was all for acquiring him if there is a reasonable way to do it. The 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle said he knows McCoy “well,” seeing him as an exemplary leader who can still play.

McCoy, who won't turn 32 until February, played college ball for Baker Mayfield's alma mater, Oklahoma, for a head coach, Bob Stoops, who grew up in Northeast Ohio.

Like Thomas, McCoy was a No. 3 overall draft pick. He has spent his entire nine-year career with the Bucs, with individual success galore but meager results from a team perspective. With him, starting in 2010, the Buccaneers have gone 10-6, 4-12, 7-9, 4-12, 2-14, 6-10, 9-7, 5-11 and 5-11. They have not been to the playoffs.

Dorsey's work as GM has changed the Browns' narrative.

While viewing a McCoy acquisition as realistic, the Browns are planning to make do with what they have, if they have to. And what they have already is part of the newfound optimism.

If McCoy is added, he would be part of a potential super line.

Butch Davis, a former defensive lineman and defensive line coach, tried to make the defensive line the Browns' strength in the early 2000s when he was their coach.

Davis' attempts and what Dorsey is trying bear comparing.

The 2019 Browns have 2017 No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett at defensive end. He is coming off a 12.5-sack, Pro Bowl year. Davis had a No. 1 overall pick at end, but Courtney Brown was plagued by injuries and had only 12.5 sacks combined in four seasons under Davis.

The 2019 Browns' other end is trade acquisition Olivier Vernon, who filled in for Khalil Mack as an injury replacement in the most recent Pro Bowl. In 2002, Davis' second season, he brought in end Kenard Lang, who had been a No. 17 overall draft pick in 1997. Lang never got to a Pro Bowl.

Davis drafted one of his defensive tackles, Gerard Warren, at No. 3 overall in 2001. Warren had a long career but never turned into the impact player who convinced Davis not to bother drafting LaDainian Tomlinson. Davis inherited the other defensive tackle, Orpheus Roye, who stands as one of the Browns' better expansion-era players.

In Davis' final, ill-fated season of 2004, he acquired end Ebenezer Ekuban, who had been a first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 1999. He never went to a Pro Bowl, and the defensive line as a whole never became what Davis imagined.

The 2019 Browns' top defensive tackles are free agency pick-up Sheldon Richardson, a former No. 13 overall draft pick who has been to a Pro Bowl, and third-year Brown Larry Ogunjobi, one of the draft picks the Sashi Brown regime appears to have gotten right.

Lump together what the '19 team already has, and it looks like a rather nice collection.

But depth is an issue. Keeping high-level players on the field becomes even more of an issue if there is an injury.

The Browns remain in good salary-cap shape and can afford to pay McCoy reasonable market value. But they wouldn't just be adding him. The thought would be to juice up the synergy of the entire group.

And they are thinking about it. Still.