Devin McCourty has seen it all during his almost 12 years in the NFL. A former first-round draft choice, he became a key member of the New England Patriots’ defense from the get-go, changed positions from cornerback to safety, helped the organization win three Super Bowls and played in some of the most memorable games in the history of the league.
One thing he has not seen, though, was the Patriots being this aggressive in free agency. McCourty saw some high-profile additions through trade or draft over the years, but nothing quite like the spending spree New England went on earlier this month.
Entering the offseason after a disappointing 7-9 campaign but among the league leaders in salary cap space, the team invested considerable resources to address the weak spots on its roster. Tight end, wide receiver, defensive front seven, you name it.
“I’m excited,” said McCourty on Wednesday during an appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “In my 11 years there we haven’t had an offseason like this. It’s exciting. I think as fans and people who watch the sport we always want our team to spend big in free agency. I’m all about trying to get a better team and going out there and competing, and trying to get back to the playoffs.”
The Patriots’ free agency shopping tour did not just include adding outside talent in all three phases of the game, it also saw the team bring back some of its own players — among them four team captains. While David Andrews, Lawrence Guy and James White all hit the open market, Cam Newton was already re-signed before his contract expired.
McCourty also spoke about the Patriots’ starting 2020 quarterback during his NFL Network interview, praising him for the impact he had on the locker room and New England’s offense.
“He’s a great leader, and that’s what we saw right away with him getting there last year really in a year that was very tough — no offseason, no anything. Coming in, I thought he was just himself,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having our full locker room, hopefully without the Covid restrictions as much. He’s just been a great guy. I think his work ethic and his leadership were great for our offense last year in a year when we needed it.”
Newton joined the Patriots last July to compete against Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback job. He came away victoriously and a short time later was voted a captain by his teammates. While the former league MVP struggled during the season — in part due to the circumstances — McCourty is obviously pleased with his return.
Newton and McCourty will now try to get New England back to the playoffs after a one-year absence, and the free agency additions made by the club over the last two weeks are expected to help as well.
“I’m excited,” said the veteran defensive back. “Getting to meet some of these guys through text already, but I can’t wait to get back together and start to build for this season.”