Although initial reports indicated Gerald McCoy‘s visit with the Panthers would begin on Thursday, he’ll actually begin meeting with the club on Friday, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The Ravens and Browns have already hosted McCoy, and despite a slew of other reported interest, it appears McCoy will decide between Baltimore, Cleveland, and Carolina, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests (Twitter link). McCoy, 31, has reportedly drawn offers as high as $11MM per year, although that figure is difficult to believe at face value, especially given Ndamukong Suh — McCoy’s replacement in Tampa Bay — collected only $9.25MM on a one-year deal.
Here’s more from the NFC South:
- The Panthers are planning to run more 3-4 looks on defense, at least when they’re in base on early downs, as David Newton of ESPN.com writes. Rumors of a scheme change in Carolina have been bubbling for months, but head coach Ron Rivera hadn’t yet confirmed the move. Per Newton, the Panthers began experimenting with 3-4 fronts after Rivera took over play-calling for the final month of the season. According to Warren Sharp’s personnel data, Carolina ranked near the bottom of the league in 2018 in facing three-plus receivers — if that trend continues next year, the Panthers will spend a good deal of time in their new 3-4 base defense.
- Defensive end Takkarist McKinley has been experimenting at linebacker during the Falcons‘ organized team activities, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. McKinley, a first-round pick in the 2017 draft, has been lining up over the tight end on certain plays. “There will be some packages where can be a linebacker,” head coach Dan Quinn said. “The value in that (presents the question of) is he a rusher or is he a dropper?” The 23-year-old McKinley posted eight sacks and 50 pressures on 617 snaps last season.
- Cam Newton has continually expressed optimism that he’ll be ready for training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder injury, and the Panthers quarterback recent took a step in the right direction. Newton has begun throwing a regulation size football, per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. The 30-year-old signal-caller sat out the final two games of the 2018 season while dealing with shoulder pain that eventually led to his operation.
- New director of athlete performance Greg Skaggs will head a sports science department on the Buccaneers‘ staff, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Skaggs and his crew will work on training and conditioning techniques in an effort to “optimize player health and production.”