New England Patriots Free Agent Grades: Devin McCourty deal is a steal

Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots free agent plans are officially underway. After working to clear some cap space in the days leading up to the legal tampering period (which is now officially underway), the Pats have begun to put their plan into motion.

The Patriots, who have allowed pretty much all of their free agent class to hit the open market, reached a couple of deals right before the tampering period started. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was brought back on a two year, $4 million deal that ensures he will continue to help Mac Jones in his development. Reserve offensive lineman James Ferentz was also re-signed, which helps ensure the o-line will maintain some depth. Terms of his deal have not been disclosed yet.

While those are both important moves, the most important extension made over the past 24 hours came with safety Devin McCourty. New England signed McCourty to a one year, $9 million extension that will keep him in Foxboro for at least the 2022 season. With significant overturn potentially set for the Pats defense, bringing McCourty back is a fantastic move that ensures the unit will have some continuity moving forward.

New England Patriots deal with Devin McCourty a win for both sides

At first glance, it appears New England threw pretty much all of their cap space at McCourty to re-sign him. The good news is that is not the case. There are voidable years at the backend of the deal that allow the cap hit to get spread over the next few seasons. The specifics are still unknown, but it’s been implied that this deal will not eat up a huge chunk of the Pats cap space.

That only makes this deal look better than it already is. McCourty has been the leader of New England’s secondary for quite some time now, and losing him would have been a massive loss. The defense has already let go of Kyle Van Noy, and could see guys like J.C. Jackson, Dont’a Hightower, and Ja’Whaun Bentley leave too, so bringing back McCourty was out of the utmost importance.

McCourty is still playing at a high level, so it’s not as if he is just being brought back for leadership purposes. He finished 2021 with 60 tackles and three interceptions, and opposing passers had a miniscule 17.6 quarterback rating when targeting him. McCourty often plays in a deeper lying role, so he doesn’t get targeted individually often, but when he does, his opponent typically doesn’t get much.

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Heading into the offseason, it didn’t really seem to be a decision on whether McCourty would return to New England, but whether he would return to football in general. McCourty will be 35 by the time the 2022 season starts up, and he has had retirement rumors swirling around him for quite some time now. But once reports came out saying he intended to return for the 2022 season, it was safe to assume he would be with the Pats.

A couple weeks back, I projected a two year, $14 million deal for McCourty. While his actual deal hands him $9 million, the voidable years actually help create cap space in the process. So whereas McCourty’s 2021 cap hit came in at $11 million, his 2022 cap hit will probably come in at the $3-4 million range.


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There’s not too much to dislike about this deal. McCourty will retain his spot at the back of New England’s defense, which is huge because it allows Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips to continue to line up all over the field. The Patriots will need someone to replace McCourty eventually, but for now, he will remain one of the top leaders on the New England Patriots defense, which will provide the unit a much needed boost for the 2022 season.