A week after Browns general manager John Dorsey first dropped the news of the Browns' interest in Gerald McCoy, the defensive tackle remains unsigned.
The Browns, meanwhile, remain interested. Very interested.
"I liked the kid," Kitchens said of his meeting with McCoy on Friday. "I like the person, of course I like the player, but more importantly just getting to know the kid. I really like him."
It seems somewhat tepid in written word, but Kitchens was clear in how much the Browns want McCoy on their team. The question is: does McCoy want Cleveland?
McCoy chose the Browns for his first free agent visit Friday, which Kitchens said went well. McCoy spent the majority of the day at the team's Berea headquarters before departing and visiting the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday and Wednesday. He left Baltimore without a deal as well, and is reportedly visiting the Carolina Panthers, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Kitchens added he feels the Browns still have a good chance of signing McCoy.
A player shopping his options via the tour McCoy is taking might make a needy team uncomfortable. That isn't the case with the Browns.
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"We want Gerald to go out and look at other places because when he makes the commitment here, we want him to be all in because everybody that's going to be here is going to be all in," Kitchens said. "That's what we need to get to where we're going. We're fine with him taking a look at everybody else. We don't care because we've told him who we were, and if that's who he wants, he'll end up here. He knows the direction we're headed."
Should McCoy circle back to the Browns after weighing his options, he'd bring a veteran presence that packs quite a punch along the interior. McCoy has racked up 54.5 sacks in his career, including a combined 19 in his last three seasons. He'd fit in nicely with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi and bring an attribute that's incredibly important to Kitchens: leadership.
"He's been through the fire," Kitchens explained. ... "You know, we're still young up front in a lot of areas. Even the guys that we signed this year are still young, relatively speaking. Just every bit of leadership. Leadership is being able to go out and do something and let somebody see you do it. Leadership can also be directing you off the field, on the field and everything else, so there's a lot of different aspects of leadership. We're going to try to create more than just one leader."
McCoy spent his entire career in Tampa Bay and never reached the playoffs. At 31 years old, it would make sense if contending matters more than money at this point in his career, but it's a thought we won't be able to confirm until much later. Asked if that would help elevate the Browns to the front of the pack, Kitchens was concise.
"That's always our goal," Kitchens said of making the postseason. "If that's his goal, then it's going to be the right place."