NFL News & Analysis

Gerald McCoy signs with Las Vegas Raiders after missing last season due to injury

Sep 8, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders announced Wednesday evening they signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers standout interior defender Gerald McCoy. The four-time All-Pro has patiently waited on the free agency market for a team to scoop him up, and the Raiders made it happen late in the process.

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Although contract details have yet to be released, this should be a very cheap signing for the Raiders, and it could be one of the best value additions of the offseason. McCoy was set to start for the Dallas Cowboys last year before he ruptured his quad in training camp, forcing him to miss the entire year. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported that McCoy “showed up in Vegas in good shape, and will compete for a job inside.”

Gerald McCoy Career PFF Grades
Season PFF Grade Run-Defense Grade Pass-Rush Grade
2010 66.1 58.1 71.7
2011 69.7 73.1 69.0
2012 82.1 73.6 79.2
2013 84.4 70.8 90.0
2014 83.3 65.8 91.5
2015 62.4 57.3 72.7
2016 77.0 65.7 81.4
2017 86.9 79.2 80.5
2018 76.7 78.1 66.6
2019 72.4 77.0 69.4

It looks like McCoy will be the final piece of Las Vegas’ defensive line overhaul this offseason. Before him, the Raiders signed Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson and Darius Philon to play in their 4-3 defensive scheme. They also let go of PFF favorite Maurice Hurst on April 15.

Before the McCoy signing, the Raiders’ starting front four was projected to be:
DE: Yannick Ngakoue
DT: Jonathan Hankins
DT: Quinton Jefferson
DE: Maxx Crosby

Former fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell was likely to play one of the defensive tackle spots on obvious passing downs. However, McCoy could push Jefferson and Hankins for an interior spot. With Hankins occupying more of a run-stopping role, McCoy will probably be trying to take Jefferson’s spot as an interior pass rusher. McCoy has garnered five or more sacks in every season since 2014, with the exception of 2020 due to injury.

In his prime, he was one of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen. From 2012 to 2014, McCoy ranked third in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among all defensive tackles and made three first-team All-Pro teams. Since then, his play has fallen off just a bit; he ranked 17th in WAR from 2015-2019.

Here are McCoy’s stats from his last healthy season with the Panthers in 2019 compared to Jefferson’s numbers in 2020: 

Statistic Quinton Jefferson (2020) Gerald McCoy (2019)
Sacks 3
Pressures  35 48
Tkls for Loss + No Gain 5 7
Run Stops 8 19
PFF Grade 60.0 72.4
PFF Pass-Rushing Grade 71.2 69.4

This could prove to be a real steal this late in the offseason for the Raiders if McCoy matches his play from 2019. Las Vegas has ranked last in generating pass rush since trading Khalil Mack back in 2018 (27.3% pressure rate), and McCoy is a proven pocket pusher from the inside. Gus Bradley, now the Raiders’ defensive coordinator, blitzed 16.3% of the time with the Chargers from 2017 to 2020 — the lowest rate in the NFL. He instead relied on his front four to create pressure by themselves.

Without McCoy in the fold, the Raiders’ group would have likely struggled to generate consistent pressure, but McCoy brings a unique skill set from the interior.

His presence will be needed on defense if the Raiders want to slow down Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert in the division. This signing could help the Raiders see some positive regression on defense — and to awaken what has been a dormant pass rush in Las Vegas.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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