Can Ravens history repeat itself with Gerald McCoy visit?

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens likely will be in catch-up mode when free-agent defensive tackle Gerald McCoy visits their team facility Tuesday.

If McCoy's decision comes down to money, the Ravens would be hard-pressed to compete with the Cleveland Browns, who met with McCoy on Friday. Baltimore has $13.8 million in salary-cap space, according to ESPN's Roster Management System, and Cleveland has $33.8 million (fourth most in the NFL).

For McCoy to join the Ravens, history must be on their side ...

    • The Ravens are closers when it comes to free-agent visits. Baltimore pulls out all the stops when it comes to recruiting, which is why this franchise has built a reputation on not letting coveted free agents leave without deals. In recent years, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace both canceled their trips to New England and signed with Baltimore during their visits. It doesn't hurt that the Ravens bring free agents to "The Castle," a facility that resembles a country club more than an NFL team headquarters.

  • McCoy has a strong relationship with Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen. One of the reasons McCoy is meeting with the Ravens is his connection with Cullen, who was McCoy's position coach in Tampa Bay in 2014 and 2015. Cullen has been a strong supporter of McCoy's and even came to his defense in 2016 when a report came out questioning the six-time Pro Bowl player's work ethic. “That is total B.S. -- Gerald worked his ass off," Cullen told Pewter Report, even though he was no longer with the Buccaneers at that point. "I’ve coached some good ones around the league, but no one worked harder than Gerald. He was limited at times because of injury but no one in that building worked harder."

  • McCoy told ESPN's Josina Anderson that he wants to play for a contender, and he reportedly turned down an $11 million offer from a team that's not close to winning. That shows how much value McCoy is putting on getting to the playoffs for the first time in his 10-year NFL career. Baltimore is coming off a season in which it won the AFC North, and coach John Harbaugh has guided the Ravens to the postseason in seven of 11 seasons. Even though the Browns are the trendy pick this season with Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2002 (the longest drought in the NFL).

  • McCoy is apparently a fan of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. He was complimentary of Jackson heading into a Week 15 matchup with him, saying, "He's a reincarnation of Michael Vick. He looks almost identical to Michael Vick on film. You never know what he's going to do. He's unpredictable." Jackson totaled 226 yards in Baltimore's 20-12 win over Tampa Bay, and McCoy didn't record a sack or quarterback hit.

The addition of McCoy would significantly improve the Ravens' pass rush on the interior of the defensive line and help Baltimore in retooling last year's No. 1 defense in the NFL. But the Ravens will probably have to make a strong sales pitch to persuade him to come to Baltimore.