Maybe Gerald McCoy will end up staying in the NFC after all.

All signs pointed to McCoy, who was released by the Buccaneers last week, switching conferences after nine seasons in Tampa Bay. The star defensive tackle reportedly met with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, who appeared to be the finalists for McCoy’s services.

But after leaving both AFC North cities without a deal, McCoy reportedly is entertaining a third option as he does his due diligence on his next destination.

Defense has been a priority for Carolina this offseason. After Julius Peppers retired and Thomas Davis departed in free agency, the Panthers picked up veteran linebacker Bruce Irvin on the open market and used their top draft pick — No. 16 overall — on Florida State LB Brian Burns. The addition of McCoy certainly would help Carolina’s pass rush, which ranked 27th in the league last season in sacks.

The Panthers, Ravens and Browns all offer appealing fits for McCoy, but one imagines the 31-year-old’s decision might come down to dollar signs.

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