Top-Graded Safety Called ‘Perfect’ Replacement for Devin McCourty

Getty Devin McCourty

Devin McCourty has been one of the greatest New England Patriots of all time, but he can’t play forever. McCourty will be 35 by the start of next season.

While he has been the model of consistency and durability (having missed only 5 games in 12 years) the Patriots and Bill Belichick may want to think about life after D-Mac.

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NFL Analyst Likes Saints Young Safety as McCourty’s Replacement

Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes the New Orleans Saints’ Marcus Williams would be the perfect replacement for McCourty.

“The New England Patriots showed they were willing to spend heavily in free agency when the possibility of multiple losing seasons became more realistic,” Sobleski wrote. “The team bounced back this season and regained its playoff form. Last season’s splurge shouldn’t stop there, though. The Patriots need to re-sign cornerback J.C. Jackson and consider long-term replacements for safety Devin McCourty.”

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No matter what the Patriots do about McCourty’s eventual replacement, Sobleski is correct, Belichick needs to prioritize re-signing Jackson. While he might not be quite as elite of a shutdown corner as Stephon Gilmore was, his 25 interceptions in his first 61 games is beyond impressive. If New England can’t retain Jackson, would they want even more turnover in the back end of a defense that has allowed the fewest points this season?

“McCourty’s contributions to the Patriots can’t be overstated during his 12 seasons with the franchise,” Sobleski recognizes. “But he will turn 35 in August, and the possibility of signing one of the league’s better young free safeties should be strongly considered. Marcus Williams has been exceptional as the back-line defender for the New Orleans Saints since becoming a second-round pick in the 2017 draft. But the Saints lack financial flexibility, and a quarterback will be the likely target if/when the organization creates some. The 25-year-old has consistently been one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded safeties and could be the perfect piece to replace McCourty.”

Williams hasn’t had huge numbers (15 interceptions in 5 years) or even made a Pro Bowl in his career, but he is highly regarded at his position, and he’s only 25 years old. The Saints paid him $10.6 million for this season, and it’s possible a multi-year deal with a slightly larger annual salary could get Williams’ attention.

The real question is: when is the right time to bring on McCourty’s replacement, and when should the team move on from a player who is bound for the organization’s Hall of Fame?

McCourty Will Be a Free Agent After the Season

Does McCourty want to continue to play? For a player in his mid-30s who has already been to 2 Pro Bowls, played in 5 Super Bowls and won 3 championships, it’s not exactly a given.

McCourty is a free agent after the 2021 season, but the arrow is seemingly pointing up for the Patriots thanks to an infusion of youth through the draft over the past 2 years with players like Kyle Dugger, Christian Barmore, Rhamondre Stevenson and of course, Mac Jones.

McCourty has remained healthy and playing on a high level. As he prepares to compete in the team’s Week 18 clash with the Miami Dolphins, McCourty hasn’t missed a game since 2015. That’s a streak of 97 consecutive regular-season games played.

To put it plainly, Mccourty can still play.

If McCourty will return on a reasonable and short deal, the Patriots may just re-up with him. If not, don’t put it past Belichick to make a hard pivot toward a younger player like Williams.

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