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Devin McCourty confident he is leaving the Patriots ‘in great hands’ after his retirement

The long-time team captain announced his retirement earlier this month.

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Devin McCourty was an essential part of the New England Patriots’ fabric for more than a decade. His retirement, which was announced earlier this month, will therefore be leaving a big hole both on and off the field — one not easily filled.

As the 35-year-old pointed out during his retirement ceremony on Tuesday, however, he feels confident that the future of the team is in good hands.

“I’m going to miss relationships more than football, but what I’m excited about is watching this team grow,” McCourty said.

He went on to point out two players in particular: quarterback Mac Jones and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. Both shared the team captain honor with McCourty in 2022, alongside center David Andrews, defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. and special teamer Matthew Slater.

“I look at my guy Mac here — first row, right here, here to support me. And I look at the team and I know, the team has great leadership because of a guy like him,” McCourty said. “Seeing my guy Bent in the back, who was a young vet as soon as he got here. We looked at him to be a leader as a rookie, and I’ve seen the growth that he’s had. I know this team is in great hands.”

Jones joined the Patriots as a first-round draft pick in 2021, and is entering his third season as the team’s starting quarterback. Bentley, meanwhile, arrived in 2018 and after playing a rotational role early on in his career emerged as a valuable player and tone-setter on the defensive side of the ball.

McCourty added that he would not have any special message for them and the rest of the Patriots’ next generation of leaders. He did point out, though, what he believes would be the best thing any leader could do.

“I’ve had the opportunity to sit with a bunch of these guys that are probably going to be captains again next year in the captains meetings,” he said. “I think the greatest thing you can do as a leader is just being yourself. They all know that; I’ve said that to all of these guys multiple times: ‘Just be yourself.’

“I think the greatest message that I could have left them was the way that I carried myself and conducted myself throughout my time. I know all of these guys, when they wear this Patriot uniform they understand the same thing I did when I got here: you represent a group of guys that went before you that put a lot of time and effort into building something.”

McCourty took what he learned from those preceding him, and incorporated it into his own career and leadership style — taking advice from the likes of Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Matthew Slater, among others. Along the way, he also tried to pass the baton to the younger players on the roster.

The group he is now leaving behind will have to carry on this legacy. McCourty feels strongly about its ability to successfully do just that.

“When I look at the team, the leadership that they have, there is a bunch of guys that not only have seen things in this league, but I think the biggest thing about being a leader is you carry all life experiences with you,” he said. “All of these guys have been in tough situations; they’ve had to battle for what they have in this league, for what they’ve had in college, in high school. And they’ll carry that. They’ll wear that on their sleeve. ...

“I think they’ll do a great job. This team is battle-tested; they’ve been through good, they’ve been through bad. But I think the biggest thing is that they want to win, and they want to win together. So, I’m excited to watch the team and cheer them on.”