While the New England Patriots suffered some noteworthy losses during this year’s free agency period and will therefore look markedly different as a team moving forward, they also were able to retain some cornerstone players. One member of this group is team captain and starting free safety Devin McCourty, who re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year, $23 million contract before the start of the league’s legal tampering period last week.
McCourty returning keeps the starter-level of the best secondary in football intact, and also ensures that the team will keep some continuity within the locker room after seeing veteran leaders Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts depart. Staying with the team with which he started his career as a first-round draft pick in 2010 came down to more factors than loyalty to the Patriots or money as McCourty recently explained.
“I think just the opportunity to play here, and how awesome it’s been,” the 32-year-old told his brother and fellow Patriots defensive back Jason McCourty on their Double Coverage Podcast. “I learned early in my football career that you can’t think that you just stay on one team — it never really usually happens. This situation was just so unique, because the Patriots, for one, turned into a family for over 10 years and then my family actually became a part of the team.
“And then playing here with [Jason]. That was a huge part of it,” McCourty continued. While Devin has been with the Patriots for the past 10 years, Jason only joined the team via trade from the Cleveland Browns in 2018. The two went on to win the Super Bowl in their first year together as starters at safety and outside cornerback, and also played prominent roles within the team’s secondary in 2019 before a groin injury essentially ended Jason’s season.
Jason, who had re-signed in New England in 2019, also headed into this year’s offseason with an uncertain future ahead: the second year of his deal was dependent on the Patriots exercising a $500,000 contract option ahead of the first day of the new league year. The team did just that a few days before Devin was eventually re-signed — thus laying the groundwork to keep the McCourty twins together for at least one more season.
“I’m not really big into legacy, and all that other stuff,” Devin said. “But the opportunity to play football with my twin brother, and the opportunity for my kids to play with their cousins and be together all year, or half the year during the season, it’s just so much fun. The last two years have been the best two years of my career. That was my first priority, to see if I could continue that. And I was just happy we were able to work out a deal.”
The family aspect obviously played an important for McCourty in his decision to stay with the Patriots — a team for which he appearing in a combined 178 regular season and playoff games, and with which he won three championships. As he pointed out during the podcast, however, his personal reasons for staying extended beyond it: his relationship with the New England community also factored into him signing a new contact with the organization.
“I would say, lastly, just the community,” he said when speaking about the reasons why he stayed a Patriot. “The whole New England area has been home for me. I’ve been in so many different cities throughout New England, all the way up to Vermont down to different parts of Connecticut. I loved every minute of that and I wanted to keep that going, just because I feel like that is my role here in New England: to have a huge impact.”
McCourty added that he would not want to leave the team and the region until he would feel as if “there’s a guy that’s at least two or three years under 30 that could take charge of that and really hold onto that for the next 10 years.” That would be his ultimate goal, meaning that he wants to see both the Patriots’ secondary and New England as a whole in good hands upon his departure — whenever it comes.