Patriots Trade For Jason McCourty Will Never Happen


Patriots fans are really, really good at obsessively wishing for two things – a bad-mother-f’er wide receiver, and a “shutdown” cornerback.

See, you give us one Randy Moss season for the ages, and every year, Patriots Nation’s memory of him gets better and better.  Randy Moss is the football version of a fishing story that just gets more and more ridiculous every time it’s told, or that girl you spent one night with on spring break junior year in Florida that you never saw again.  

It’s our version of the Chris Farley Show: “Hey, Randy Moss, you remember that time…that you caught 23 touchdowns?  …That was awesome.”

Looking at all the defensive backs that have played for New England during the Belichick era, and the list looks almost comical.  Belichick’s drafted guys like Devin McCourty, Asante Samuel, and Ellis Hobbs, and then signed free agents like Pro Bowlers and Hall of Fame candidates like Darrelle Revis and Rodney Harrison to team up with homegrown talents he inherited like Ty Law.  

Especially in the early Brady vs. Manning days, receivers like Marvin Harrison going up against Ty Law and Rodney Harrison almost seemed like a Madden matchup, after one player had drunk a 12-pack by themselves.

So of course, when last week’s NFL trade deadline came up, Patriots fans got all starry-eyed after reports from Pro Football Talk and Ian Rapoport teased us with the headline “Patriots have interest in Jason McCourty”.  The only two words that were more exciting that day would be if someone said “Free Pizza”.

Put simply, Jason McCourty is a heckuva cornerback that’s been on mostly bad Tennessee Titans teams since he was drafted in the sixth round out of Rutgers University.

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McCourty’s op-ed in Sports Illustrated’s MMQB this spring about having never been to the playoffs while he watches his twin brother go deep in the postseason every January might be the most unintentionally hilarious thing Peter King has ever hit “Publish” on, and the Titans have never finished better than 9-7 since he’s been in the NFL.

I mean, just look at this part right here:

“If I imagined my life at age 27, there’s not much more I could ask for. I’m paid to play the sport I love. I live in a great city (Nashville), have an amazing wife and a beautiful 2-year-old daughter, Liana. I’ve been blessed with health and an incredibly supportive circle of friends and family.”

…which is followed a bit later on by this:

“But the truth is, year after year, Devin is closer. I hate the fact that only once have I played in a Week 16 game that mattered (that was my third year, when we went 9-7 and were still in the hunt for a playoff spot; we didn’t get in).”

The Titans signed J-Mac to a five-year, $43-million extension with $20 million guaranteed back in 2012, so swinging a trade would’ve meant the Patriots, who are currently sitting on a pint-sized $2,955,211.00 in cap space, according to, would have had to do some serious gymnastics to make the numbers work.

Then again, that’s what Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick have been downright brilliant at over the years, even if it means trading a guy while he’s still got a good season or two left in him.

It was just too potentially amazing to not dream about – Devin at free safety and Jason at cornerback, double-teaming and taking out other team’s best receivers and tight ends together, jumping around after interceptions, and finally giving the Patriots a clear number one corner.  

This could’ve actually happened in the next Jets game: “Decker lines up outside, McCourty in coverage.  Decker runs a go route, McCourty right with him, McCourty tips the pass, and it’s…INTERCEPTED by McCourty, off the deflection from McCourty!  And the McCourtys take it all the way back for a touchdown!”

*muskets fire*

Reports finally came out as the clock wound down to 4:00pm that the Titans had decided Jason McCourty wasn’t available for a trade anymore.  

People have been talking about the Patriots pairing the McCourty brothers ever since Devin was drafted a year after Jason.  This trade will never, ever happen.

First off, the Titans signed McCourty to an extension that’ll run until Jason is 30-years-old.  With most NFL contracts not being designed to actually reach their end, it’s a sure shot that the Titans will restructure his deal at some point before his contract runs out.  

If you look at the cap hits for players like Drew Brees and Joe Flacco in the final years of their respective deals, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that either of them actually play for $20,000,000 or more.  Odds are, McCourty never sees the end of his current deal.  They’ll restructure or extend him again first.

But more importantly, there just aren’t enough quality corners to go around in the NFL.  Passing offenses are experiencing all-time levels of success, passing records are getting broken left and right, and even teams with the best secondaries in the league get routinely carved up by the best quarterbacks.  

Despite all that, decent-to-average cornerbacks still rake in the dough in free agency.  Byron Maxwell, who’s REALLY struggling after leaving Seattle, got a six-year, $64-million deal from Philadelphia this past year.

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And Tennessee, who are somehow rocking the league’s fourth-best passing defense, in terms of yards allowed, despite their two-win record, is in no way in fire-sale mode.  They’re in the exact opposite situation, really: their rookie quarterback looks like a beast when he’s healthy, the defense as a whole went from god-awful in 2014 to, as we mentioned earlier, the fourth-best pass defense and the 16th ranked rushing defense, after ranking 31st in rushing defense in 2014.  

Tennessee has plenty of young players like Jurrell Casey that are already stars, and plenty of potential with young guys like Dorial Green-Beckham and Kendall Wright.  Their division, the AFC South, has the potential to be comically, historically bad.  Like, worse than the NFC South in 2014 bad.

Tennessee has to be looking at Jason McCourty as a franchise cornerstone, a guy that has several good years left in him, and a guy to build the rest of the defense and secondary around.  Unless the Patriots came knocking with a trade like the one that the Eagles reportedly offered Tennessee for Marcus Mariota at the draft, which they will absolutely never do, the Titans would surely laugh and tell New England to move along.

That offer reportedly involved two first-round picks, a third-round pick, star defensive end Fletcher Cox, cornerback Brandon Boykin, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and, groan, Sam Bradford.  

Jason McCourty is 28 years old.  He’s under contract for the next two years, at which point he’ll be 30 years old.  If he’s still playing well next year, the Titans will surely extend him again and keep drafting to fill the other holes on their team (COUGH offensive line, Titans, COUGH).  Also, compared to plenty of other corners in the NFL, Jason McCourty is a relative bargain, in terms of what he’s making.

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The best corners in the league – Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, etc – are making an average of $14 million a year.  McCourty’s contract is barely half of that, averaging out at around $8.6 million a year.  And to point out just how good McCourty’s been just one more time, for as bad as Tennessee has been recently, last year, they were 10th in the league against no. 1 receivers, which is where J-Mac most frequently lines up.

The Titans aren’t giving that up anytime soon.