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2020 Patriots captain Jason McCourty navigating ‘different’ year as a free agent

Veteran cornerback Jason McCourty started 11 games for New England last season.

New England Patriots Practice Staff Photo By Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

Jason McCourty remains an unrestricted free agent as the NFL calendar turns from March to April.

The veteran cornerback, who has spent the past three seasons with the New England Patriots, discussed the waiting game Wednesday during an appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.”

“This year in free agency has been different, obviously, with the cap and everything as a result of 2020,” McCourty said alongside twin brother and Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “I just want to be somewhere where I’m wanted and an opportunity to compete and help the guys around me.”

The former Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns corner has appeared in 47 games with New England since arriving in 2018, including playoffs. An exchange of draft selections that were separated by a dozen slots in the sixth and seventh rounds has brought 36 starts. It has also brought 162 tackles, 23 passes defensed, a pair of interceptions and a Super Bowl LIII ring.

McCourty re-signed with the Patriots on a two-year, $10 million pact in 2019. He was named a team captain after his team option was exercised last spring.

By January, his 665 snaps ranked sixth on the defense.

“As an older player now, I really look forward and love being able to mentor the younger guys and be able to kind of help them grow as well as going out there competing and trying to win games,” added McCourty. “So, wherever that may be, I’m going to be excited.”

Leading up to the cap-reduced 2021 league year, New England tendered J.C. Jackson as a restricted free agent and agreed to terms with versatile defensive back Jalen Mills. The depth chart also stands with Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Myles Bryant, Justin Bethel, D’Angelo Ross, Dee Virgin, Michael Jackson Sr. as well as Stephon Gilmore’s current $7 million base salary.

But a new month begins for McCourty. The Rutgers product will be 34 by the time training camps reach full swing in August.

“This will be Year 13, so each year, you’re closer to the end,” he said. “This could be it. I’m just excited to get somewhere and play football.”