Although unable to get on the field with his new employer, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the veteran defensive tackle, who signed a three-year, $20 million contract at the start of free agency, received extensive briefing in recent weeks on his projected duties.
As predicted, first-year Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan quickly took to the three-time All-Pro. McCoy, able to function as a 5-, 3- or 1-technique lineman, just as quickly took to Nolan, an NFL lifer whose age-old system relies on multiple, often-aggressive fronts.
To say there’s mutual excitement — and, importantly, mutual respect — is a colossal understatement.
“I talked to the coaches a little bit. (The scheme) fits me,” McCoy said, via the team’s official website. “Everything they want to do is everything I love to do. And they’re going to let me be me. They’re bringing me in to be me – get up the field, disrupt the passer, get in the backfield and make plays. That’s what I love to do and that’s what they’re going to allow me to do.”
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Refresher on McCoy
The No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 draft, McCoy went one-and-done with the Carolina Panthers in 2019, after landing with the club last June. He registered 37 tackles, five sacks, and two pass breakups across 16 starts, proving he’s still a highly capable interior disruptor.
Prior to his Panthers stint, McCoy honed an all-star pass-rushing reputation in Tampa. He spent his first nine professional seasons with the Buccaneers and totaled 297 tackles (220 solo), 140 quarterback hits, 79 tackles for loss, and 54.5 sacks across 123 games. The production warranted an eight-year, $108.5 million extension in 2014, which included a whopping $51.5 million guaranteed.
“I have never rotated as much as I did last year in Carolina,” McCoy said in March, per The Athletic. “That’s not what I was used to. I can play all game if I have to. … I’m an every down guy. That hasn’t changed, and I don’t plan on it changing this year.”
No, it will not. Together with fellow free-agent addition Dontari Poe — eight Pro Bowls and nearly 650 pounds between the defensive tackles — McCoy offers a high-upside complement to star DE Demarcus Lawrence, boosting a unit that notched just 39 takedowns last season, among the bottom half of the league.
“They’re two damn good veteran football players,” head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters in May. “They definitely fit what we’re trying to do up front, inside. Our outlook on how you play defense is you still got to stop the run. Then you have two big guys that can pass rush too.”
A Freer — and Slimmer — McCoy
In anticipation of his liberation, McCoy revealed to the Cowboys’ official website that he lost 20 pounds this offseason after regularly weighing in around 300. This, he hopes, should help preserve his efficacy on the field.
McCoy has battled various injuries throughout his career, logging just three 16-game campaigns since entering the NFL a decade ago. He did, however, play the duration of 2019 in Carolina, providing the right amount of confidence for 2020.
“They’re going to let me be me,” McCoy said of the Cowboys, via Pro Football Talk. “They’re bringing me in to be me.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL