The New England Patriots might be in the middle of overhauling their cornerback corps. The team lost Logan Ryan as an unrestricted free agent, signed former Buffalo Bill Stephon Gilmore to a 5-year, $65.0 million contract and is in the middle of an apparent contract dispute with Malcolm Butler.
Depending on how things ultimately shake out with Butler, New England might be in need of additional depth at the position. Enter Jason McCourty, twin brother of Patriots free safety Devin. Yesterday, the Tennessee Titans released the 29-year old, who is 27 minutes younger than his brother, with whom he played together in high school and at Rutgers.
Given their kinship and football background, the move naturally sparks questions about a possible reunion of the McCourty brothers in New England.
From the Patriots’ perspective, bringing the younger McCourty on board would make sense – but most likely only if restricted free agent Malcolm Butler leaves the team this offseason. With the Pro Bowler in the fold, the top of the Patriots’ cornerback depth chart would consist of Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and Cyrus Jones. A very solid grouping like that would make it hard for McCourty to find a spot.
If Butler leaves, however, McCourty might be an intriguing and experienced option for the Patriots. He would, if signed, a) not count against the compensatory draft picks formula – something the Patriots very much keep in mind – and b) likely become the third option at the position behind Gilmore and Rowe and play on the boundary when brought onto the field.
Money will obviously play a key role independently of what happens with Butler. McCourty, entering the final year of his contract, was due a salary (and salary cap hit) of $7.0 million. Would he take significantly less for the chance to play alongside his brother and for a contender like the defending Super Bowl champions? That very well could be the deciding factor.
Overall, Jason McCourty, despite struggling with injuries over the last two years, still appears to be capable of being a solid number two or three cornerback option. Whether he will ultimately get a chance to be that for the Patriots remains to be seen. On the surface, though, it would definitely make sense to at least bring him in for a visit and find out whether or not he can help the team.