One of the biggest moves of the New England Patriots’ 2018 offseason was acquiring cornerback Jason McCourty from the Cleveland Browns: New England traded a sixth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire Jason McCourty and a seventh-round selection, effectively securing a starting defender — one that earned regular playing time as the team’s second cornerback alongside Stephon Gilmore — for a drop of 14 draft spots.
McCourty entered New England on the final year of the two-year, $6 million deal he signed with the Browns one year earlier. Consequently, the twin brother of Patriots defensive captain Devin McCourty is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the market officially opens later today. And it looks like New England is interested in bringing the 31-year-old back into the fold.
According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, the Patriots have “maintained a level of interest” in McCourty throughout the process of him heading towards the open market. This certainly should not come as a surprise: McCourty played a considerable role in the Patriots defense and brought experience, leadership and a high level of play to the table. He also might be willing to take a hometown discount to keep playing alongside his brother.
McCourty is one of 13 pending unrestricted free agents still unaccounted for, and one of them is reportedly already generating interest: according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, defensive tackle Danny Shelton is scheduled to visit two teams this week. The 25-year-old, like McCourty, joined the Patriots via trade from the Browns last offseason and therefore literally went from worst to first: he won the Super Bowl one year after going 0-16.
Shelton’s role, unlike McCourty’s, was comparatively limited. The former first-round draft pick appeared in 13 regular season and two postseason contests and finished the year with 28.2% defensive snaps as well as 18.7% special teams snaps.