As the March 18 opening of free agency draws closer, the New England Patriots and many other teams around the NFL are beginning to take action. Early Thursday, the Patriots made a decision on the future of one of their key free agents (not named Tom Brady).
According to ESPN reporter Field Yates, the Patriots have picked up their team option on veteran CB Jason McCourty for the 2020 season. The move will pay the 32-year-old a base salary of $2.65 million with total salary cap implications ranging up to $5.55 million.
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New England originally acquired McCourty, along with a 2019 seventh-round draft pick, in a trade with the Cleveland Browns in March 2018. The Patriots later turned that pick into QB Danny Etling, while the Browns traded away the sixth-rounder they received in exchange for McCourty’s services.
The defending AFC East champions signed the eleventh-year pro to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract last offseason. McCourty, the twin brother of team captain and S Devin McCourty, has been a key contributor in the Patriots’ secondary since his arrival. Although he saw a downtick in playing time later in the 2019 season, McCourty has notched 110 total tackles, 16 pass deflections and a pair of interceptions over the past two years.
A former sixth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans, McCourty spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career in the AFC South before the Titans cut him in a cap saving move during the 2017 offseason. He went on to sign with Cleveland where he started 14 games during the team’s infamous 0-16 season in 2017.
Attention Now Turns to Devin McCourty
With brother Jason locked in for next season, the Patriots’ McCourty tandem could still remain intact. However, Devin McCourty is among a handful of highly sought-after Patriots free agents set to hit the market later this month. He joins the likes of Brady, linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, offensive linemen Joe Thuney and Ted Karras, and special teams ace Matthew Slater.
The tenth-year veteran has played his entire career in New England since being drafted by the Patriots in the first round (No. 27 overall) of the 2010 draft. McCourty has previously signed one contract extension with the team – a five-year, $47.5 million deal in 2015 – and has a shot at another significant payout entering his age 33 season. The question remains whether it will be the Patriots who cut the check. Last month during the NFL Combine, the Boston Herald reported that the team has been in contact with McCourty’s representatives and a formal meeting “could take place soon.”
The two-time Pro Bowler is reportedly drawing interest from multiple suitors, including the division rival Miami Dolphins.
While keeping McCourty in a Patriots uniform makes sense on paper, Bill Belichick and the front office may face some financial constraints as they assemble their 2020 roster, ultimately awaiting a decision from their 42-year-old quarterback.
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