Devin McCourty has been a staple of the Patriots defense since he was drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the NFL Draft. But, his upcoming free agency seems like his time with the New England Patriots might be over.
The Patriots have a lot of marquee free agents that they have to consider re-signing this offseason and they don’t have a whole lot of cap space to do it with.
Some of the current Patriots that will hit free agency in March is Tom Brady, Joe Thuney, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy, Phillip Dorsett, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Matthew Slater, and Devin McCouty.
It’s been reported that the Patriots will have about $28 million to work with, and that means a good portion of the guys on that list will be playing with different teams next season. This could be the largest roster turnover the Patriots have had in years. Not so much in volume, but the sheer number of players who played meaningful roles on the team.
Devin McCourty has always come across as a pretty smart guy and he seems to recognize this, and says that he’s excited about heading into free agency which should be his last big pay day in the NFL.
If McCourty does end up of leaving New England, that’s a huge blow to the Patriots. McCourty along with Dont’a Hightower are the leaders of the defense, and McCourty has been described as the quarterback of the secondary. Unfortunately it also doesn’t seem like the Patriots have any internal replacements for McCourty. Duron Harmon has been a very solid number 2 for the Patriots, but I’m not sure that he can fill McCourty’s shoes as a team leader, and organize the secondary quite like McCourty does.
This isn’t the first time Bill Belichick let McCourty explore free agency. Back in 2015 McCourty hit the open market, but eventually he re-signed with the Patriots. Looking at the current circumstances around the Patriots, it feel different this year, and at least in my opinion, it’s looking more and more like McCourty will be moving on from the Patriots.
It’s also hard to get a read on McCourty and exactly what he wants to do, and if he even wants to return to the Patriots.
“Is it a cool headline if I say I want to be back? Yeah, but that doesn’t really matter,” McCourty said.
This is a tough quote to read into, because this could just be McCourty saying it’s not all his decision, very much like when Belichick addressed the Tom Brady situation and said negotiations go both ways. McCourty could be simply saying that the Patriots need to want to re-sign him too. But the reality is, even at 32 years old, Devin McCourty is still going to demand big money, and the Patriots just don’t have the cap space to give McCourty the type of salary he’s projected to earn.
One landing spot that has been rumored around McCourty is the New York Giants. New England’s former Special Teams Coordinator and Wide Receiver coach Joe Judge is now the head coach of the Giants, and while giving an interview to the New York Post, McCourty seemed open to the idea of heading to the Big Apple.
“I’m always open to talk to anybody. That’s how I view it,” McCourty told the New York Post. “I like Joe [Judge]. I think he is well prepared and passionate, so he has a chance to be a really good head coach.”
Of course like everything going around New England this all speculation right now, and all that Patriots fans can do is wait and see how this offseason turns out.
The only part that I found concerning was that McCourty talked about being open about talking to anybody, and how excited he was for free agency, and he didn’t spend a lot of time talking about a possible return to New England. According the McCourty himself, he has already discussed the situation with his family and they are ready for a change should it come to that.
“I’m excited,” McCourty told the Post. “I don’t expect anything. I’ve talked to my wife and we’re wide open. We’ll see how it turns out.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that McCourty is done with the Patriots. McCourty seems to be a player that’s getting into the twilight of his career and he’s excited about the unknown and making sure that he’s keeping his options wide open.
I wish I could tell you how the Patriots could replace McCourty if he does end up signing with another team, but right now I have no idea. Maybe Harmon steps up and becomes that guy. Maybe there is a steal in free agency, that still all has to be worked out. But, if there was anybody who can overcome this type of turnover it’s Bill Belichick. If Devin McCourty did decide that his time in New England was done and he moved on to find a new team, it’s these kind of moments that show us how the Patriots “Next man up” motto really works.