Devin McCourty

Dolphins, Lions Made Offers To Devin McCourty

The Patriots brought back their secondary anchor at the start of this week, but two teams run by ex-Patriots staffers made a run at the veteran safety.

Both the Dolphins and Lions submitted offers to Devin McCourty, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports. While this should not be viewed as unexpected, given the number of ex-Pats on these respective teams, it helps explain McCourty’s value. The 32-year-old defender signed a two-year, $23MM Patriots deal with $17MM guaranteed.

Brian Flores coached McCourty from 2012-15, as the Pats’ safeties coach. Matt Patricia was New England’s defensive coordinator during those seasons, serving in that post from 2012-17 before taking the Detroit job. The Pats picked up Jason McCourty‘s 2020 option, however, factoring into Devin’s decision.

The Dolphins recently released safety Reshad Jones, whom the team selected in the same draft the Pats took McCourty, but have Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain at safety. Miami also authorized a massive contract for Byron Jones, who joins $15MM-per-year cornerback Xavien Howard. The Lions traded Quandre Diggs during the 2019 season, but shortly after McCourty chose the Pats, ex-Patriots exec Bob Quinn traded for longtime McCourty teammate Duron Harmon.

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Patriots Re-Sign S Devin McCourty

The Patriots are re-signing a veteran team leader… but it’s not Tom Brady. New England is bringing back safety Devin McCourty on a two-year deal worth $23MM, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Rapsheet adds that McCourty will get $17MM guaranteed with his new pact. Way back in January of 2019 McCourty announced that he was considering retirement, but he obviously ended up playing the 2019 season and said recently that he intended to play in 2020 as well. As Rapoport points out this will likely allow McCourty to finish his career with the Patriots as well as alongside his identical twin brother Jason McCourty, a cornerback with the Patriots.

McCourty, 32, entered the league as a first-round pick of the Patriots back in 2010 and has been with the team ever since. He’s won three Super Bowls with them, and is an important voice in the locker room. He’s also been an incredibly consistent presence on the field, starting at least 14 games in all 10 of his pro seasons.

His performance has always ranged from good to great, and he racked up five interceptions this past year, his most since 2012. He’s been named a second-team All-Pro selection on three occasions. We had heard a couple of weeks ago that the Dolphins were going to be interested in him had he hit the open market. Jason is under contract for 2020 after the Pats recently picked up his option.

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East Notes: Fins, Tua, Peters, Anderson

We heard back in January that the Dolphins may pursue some of the Patriots’ top FAs, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald says the ‘Fins are indeed expected to go after guard Joe Thuney. Miami also has interest in Devin McCourty, Ted Karras, and Kyle Van Noy, though the extent of that interest is unclear.

Per Jackson, the Dolphins are also high on former Patriots CB Logan Ryan, who spent the last three years with the Titans. And Ryan would seriously consider joining up with Miami if the club does make an effort to sign him.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions, starting with another item out of South Beach:

  • Recent reports have suggested that the Dolphins are cooling on Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa and that the team is resigned to the fact that he will be off the board by the time they’re on the clock with the No. 5 overall pick. Jackson says Miami gave Tagovailoa the cold shoulder at the combine, but that was likely just a ploy to suggest that they’re not interested when they really are, and draft gurus Todd McShay and Daniel Jeremiah still expect the Fins to land Tagovailoa.
  • Eagles head coach Doug Pederson may want LT Jason Peters back, but the team’s brass as a whole is split as to whether to re-sign Peters or move forward with 2019 first-rounder Andre Dillard, as Albert Breer of SI.com reports. The money they save on a new Peters contract could be re-invested in the rest of the O-line, so Philly could choose to move on from the 38-year-old free agent.
  • Although Robby Anderson may find himself as the best receiver on the free agent market, the Jets are still expected to try to re-sign him. But according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, New York will not pursue a re-up unless Anderson’s price goes no higher than $10MM per year.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com takes a stab at how the Redskins will spend their money in free agency. Unsurprisingly, he believes Washington will target CB, TE, WR, and RB.

AFC East Notes: Jets, OL, Patriots, Kilgore

Add the Jets to the teams in the James Bradberry market. Cornerback resides among the many needs in New York, and the Jets are “very interested” in the Panthers starter, Connor Hughes of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Twenty-two teams have expressed some degree of interest on Bradberry, per Hughes. This includes the Redskins, now run by longtime Panthers coach Ron Rivera. The Giants are interested, but Hughes notes the No. 1 cornerback price tag will likely push them out of the running.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, first moving to other Jets rumors from Indianapolis:

  • A high probability exists the Jets will be the rare team to replace its entire starting offensive line. Week 1’s front five — Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters and Brandon Shell — are either unlikely to be back or certainties (in Osemele’s case) not to return, and Hughes notes that the Jets are eyeing four new O-line starters. Alex Lewis, a 2019 trade get who took over after Osemele’s injury, is a free agent but could be the player from last year’s front retained. The Jets are eyeing guards Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow, per Hughes. While the Jets want to come away with a high-end free agent — they are also in on Jack Conklin — GM Joe Douglas will look to the draft to fill much of the O-line needs, Hughes adds. This points to Gang Green being in the market for this atypically stacked tackle class at No. 11.
  • Thuney is expected to cost at least $14MM, with Jeff Howe of The Athletic adding his bidding could push a guard-high $15MM. The Patriots have seen Nate Solder and Trent Brown sign O-line-record money the past two offseasons; they are not expected to try to keep Thuney. Even Thuney’s backup could have a big market. Ted Karras, a full-time starter only in 2019, may be set to earn command a near-$10MM-AAV deal, per Howe. That would be a good indication of the recently seller-happy O-line market hitting another level.
  • The Jets have also been in the market for edge rushers for years, finishing second in 2018’s Khalil Mack sweepstakes and seeing a player they wanted to turn into an edge defender — Anthony Barr — renege on a deal at the 11th hour. League sources expect Gang Green to target Dante Fowler, Hughes notes. The Rams’ bevy of big contracts will likely limit them from franchise-tagging Fowler. The Jets are also interested in Matt Judon, though the Ravens are likely to tag him. He could be a tag-and-trade option, however.
  • Despite their desperation for edge help, the Jets are not expected to be in the Jadeveon Clowney market. An issue with what some Texans sources described as a “cavalier attitude” made Douglas leery of pursuing a Clowney trade last year and has him looking elsewhere for outside linebacker aid, per Hughes. Clowney’s price tag figures to be immense. The Jets hold $49MM-plus in cap space but have many needs.
  • Optimism exists Devin McCourty will be back in New England on a third contract, Howe adds. McCourty and the Patriots are expected to meet before week’s end. The standout safety has spent all 10 seasons of his career in New England. With Jason McCourty still under contract, Devin returning to the Pats should not exactly surprise.
  • Like the Jets, the Dolphins could have a retooled offensive front. They are looking around for centers to replace Daniel Kilgore, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Kilgore has started 17 games since signing with the Dolphins in 2018. Releasing him in the final year of his contract would save the Dolphins $4MM.

FA Notes: Clowney, Conklin, Patriots, Jones

This year’s edge rusher free agency class could be especially deep, depending on how certain teams proceed with their respective franchise tags. But that doesn’t apply to the biggest name. Jadeveon Clowney cannot be tagged and is on track to test the market, and said market may be taking shape at the Combine. Thus far in the process, the Colts and Giants are two teams who have surfaced in connection to Clowney. Both could have interest in the former No. 1 overall pick, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Both teams feature edge rusher needs, the Giants more than the Colts, and each holds north of $70MM in cap space.

The Seahawks, however, are not out of the mix. Clowney said (via Anderson, on Twitter) after spending a season in Seattle he would “definitely” like to stay, though the six-year veteran pass rusher added he is open to relocating. Seahawks GM John Schneider confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson) the team wants Clowney back. Seattle has both Clowney and defensive tackle Jarran Reed as free agents, leaving major holes on the team’s defensive line.

Here is the latest from the free agent market:

  • With major needs up front, the Jets are expected to make several additions this offseason. They have expressed serious interest in Jack Conklin, according to Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com. A four-year starter at right tackle in Tennessee, Conklin will be coveted by many teams and will command a top-market contract. The Jets have deployed a bottom-tier offensive line for years, and the Titans having Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry as looming UFAs will likely send Conklin out of town.
  • The Patriots, who extended Shaq Mason in 2018, are preparing to lose his longtime guard mate. Joe Thuney has been expected to leave since last year’s Combine, per Doug Kyed of NESN.com. Approximately 20 teams have the four-year Patriots starter on their respective radars, Pauline adds. A market like this, coupled with the CBA potentially set to see record cap spikes in the coming years, likely puts Thuney in line to eclipse Lane Johnson‘s $14.1MM guard-record pact.
  • However, the Pats are not giving up on retaining some of their other key free agents. They have spoken with the representatives of Devin McCourty and Jamie Collins, Kyed notes. McCourty played out a five-year extension signed back in 2015, while Collins re-established his value on a low-level Pats accord. The latter will likely be looking for a deal closer to the $12MM-plus pact he inked with the Browns in 2017.
  • Although Chris Harris is the most accomplished cornerback on this year’s market and rated higher by some outlets, Byron Jones is viewed by corner-needy teams as the top prize at the position this year, Pauline notes. At 27, Jones is three years younger than Harris. The Cowboys are likely set to let Jones walk, having authorized numerous recent extensions and are set for crunch-time negotiations with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Jones is expected to see big offers from multiple teams, per Pauline, and is almost certainly set to raise the bar from its longstanding place at $15MM per year.

Patriots’ Jason McCourty To Continue Playing

Twins tend to think alike. On Friday, Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty confirmed that he’ll continue playing in 2020 (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).

Jason’s declaration comes just days after Devin McCourty told reporters that he will also suit up for another year. However, it’s worth noting that their contracts aren’t in sync. Jason is signed through 2020 and scheduled to count for a $5.7MM cap figure, though the Pats could save $4MM with just $1.75MM in dead money if they wanted to release him. Devin, meanwhile, will be a free agent in March.

Both McCourtys say they’ll be on the field in 2020 – even if its not with the Pats.

I’m pretty wide open. When you play 10 years somewhere, it’s not always a definite to return,” Devin said.

Jason appeared in 12 games (ten starts) at cornerback last year, notching 39 tackles, one interception, and a solid 74.4 score from PFF that positioned him as the No. 17 ranked CB in the league. Meanwhile, Devin started all 16 games for the fourth consecutive year, logged five interceptions — his highest total since the 2012 campaign — and allowed a completion percentage of 54.3 as the nearest defender in coverage.

When the twins turn 33 in August, they’ll be in training camp. It’s just not certain that it’ll be in New England.

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Devin McCourty To Play In 2020

Last year, Patriots safety Devin McCourty suggested that he may choose to retire after the Super Bowl. But he ended up playing in 2019, the last year of his contract with New England, and the free agent-to-be is apparently not making any bones about his desire to continue his playing career this time around.

Agent Andy Simms, who has represented McCourty since the Patriots selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft, told Mike Reiss of ESPN.com that his client has no intention of hanging up the cleats. “He wants to play. Retirement is not an option,” Simms said.

McCourty, who will turn 33 before Week 1 of the 2020 regular season, showed this past season that he has plenty left in the tank. Starting all 16 games for the fourth consecutive year, the Rutgers product logged five interceptions — his highest total since the 2012 campaign — and allowed a completion percentage of 54.3 as the nearest defender in coverage. His on-field leadership and his ability to facilitate communication among the Pats’ defensive backs has been a critical component of the club’s defensive success.

However, the Patriots are only projected to have $28MM or so in cap room for 2020, and despite his age, McCourty could draw a contract paying him at least $10MM per year. He has already won three Super Bowl rings, so if a team like the Dolphins — who are rumored to have interest and who could reunite him with former Pats DC Brian Flores — gives him a top-of-the-market offer New England can’t match, it may be tough to turn down.

McCourty did not have any concrete thoughts on his future when discussing free agency in a recent podcast. “No one really knows what’s going to happen,” he said. “I would say most teams really don’t even think about free agency for a couple weeks; I would say the beginning of March … So you think where you could go, will you be on your team again? But there’s really nothing [definitive] to think about.”

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Extra Points: Brady, Dalton, Dolphins, Lions

Tom Brady news figures to be a rather common occurrence in this unusual offseason for the 20-year Patriots passer. Set for free agency for the first time, Brady is not expected to re-sign with the Patriots before free agency opens. The Chargers have surfaced again, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting that Brady will have the Bolts atop his list — if, in fact, he decides to leave New England. This is not the first Brady-Chargers link, but JLC adds that the 42-year-old quarterback would have a short list if he did legitimately decide to test free agency. The Chargers’ Los Angeles headquarters, which have not been especially beneficial to the franchise thus far, would appeal to Brady. The future Hall of Famer holds offseason workouts at USC and has previously lived in L.A. The Chargers are set to move into their new stadium, along with the Rams. Brady would certainly help on this front, with the team struggling to generate attention in its new market.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Andy Dalton and new Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor remain close, and JLC can envision this being a factor in how the quarterback dominoes fall during what could be a complex offseason at sports’ marquee position. Dalton “loved” playing for Lazor during his time as Bengals QBs coach and OC, per JLC. Although the Bears have committed to starting Mitchell Trubisky next season, he certainly has not lived up to his No. 2 overall draft slot and could be pushed like 2015 No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota was this season.
  • Patriots free agents Devin McCourty, Joe Thuney and Kyle Van Noy will likely have many suitors. One is expected to be the Dolphins, with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writing that Brian Flores holds McCourty in high regard and that the team will pursue Thuney and Van Noy. All three are unrestricted free agents-to-be. Van Noy and McCourty played under Flores during his time as de facto Patriots defensive coordinator (2018), linebackers coach (2016-17) and safeties coach (2012-15). Van Noy and Thuney may price themselves out of New England.
  • Raekwon McMillan‘s 2019 season also helped sell the Dolphins on his long-term stock, Jackson adds. The Dolphins are interested in keeping the linebacker around long-term. McMillan rated as an upper-echelon linebacker, per Pro Football Focus, this season and became extension-eligible at season’s end. Under the Flores-Chris Grier setup, the Dolphins have already extended a few holdovers from the previous regime.
  • Damon Harrison revealed at the regular season’s end he is considering retirement, and the Lions are still waiting. They will likely not know Snacks’ plans for at least another few weeks, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. Thanks to the one-year add-on the Lions gave him in August, Harrison is under contract through 2021.
  • The Lions are expected to promote defensive assistant Steve Gregory to secondary coach, Birkett adds. The Lions hired Gregory, who played under Matt Patricia in New England, in 2018. Detroit fired DBs coach Brian Stewart after the season.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, McCourty, Dolphins

Ben Watson is now in his second stint with the Patriots, and the veteran tight end acknowledged that he has a greater respect for coach Bill Belichick than he did during his first go-around.

“I definitely have a different appreciation for him than I had 15 years ago,” Watson told SiriusXM Radio (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “There are many ways he hasn’t changed. Sitting in the team meeting room, he says a lot of the same things, because they are still true. Being much older than I was before, I’m able to appreciate that a lot more — a lot of the coaching, and embrace it in a way I wasn’t before. I can also see him separate from the coach, he does enjoy himself, he does smile, he does do all those things as a young player you thought he never did.”

The 2004 first-round pick spent the first six seasons of his career with New England, and he came out of retirement to (partly) replace the offensive production of Rob Gronkowski. Watson will sit out the first four games of the upcoming season after failing a drug test.

Let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC East…

  • The Patriots have had an undrafted rookie make their 53-man roster for 15 straight years, and Reiss writes that NC State wideout Jakobi Meyers is the leading candidate to earn a spot this year. The six-foot-two wideout was seen practicing with the first team all week, and the Patriots’ depth chart is currently struggling with Julian Edelman sitting out. Meyers hauled in 92 receptions for NC State last season, breaking Torry Holt‘s school record.
  • Safety Devin McCourty is about to start his 10th NFL season, but the Patriots veteran hasn’t thought about when he’s going to hang up his cleats. “I’ve been having a lot of fun this year,” McCourty told Jeff Howe of The Athletic. “I haven’t thought about next year or anything else. I’m just trying to see how much better I can get in year 10 and see how good I can be still at, in a couple weeks, (when I turn) 32 years old and still playing football and trying to embrace that.”
  • The Dolphins defense should look a whole lot different next season, and Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes that much of that can be attributed to the defensive-minded Brian Flores. The team’s new head coach is planning on having several different looks (or “groups,” as Flores calls them) on defense, including 3-4, 4-3, 5-2, and something else altogether different. “It really comes back to trying to put the right personnel groupings out there to match up with what the offense is doing and try to maximize the skill set of our players,” explained defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. “If it’s five or 10 safeties, then that’s what it is.”
  • Defensive lineman Tank Carradine is a fan of the defensive scheme, noting that it could help him become a three-down player. “There are different schemes that we run, and I have to be able to set the edge, play inside,” Carradine said. “They’re trying to move me all over the field. That’s something that I like. It’s giving me a chance to play different positions and be all out there and be an every-down player.”

Patriots’ Devin McCourty To Play In 2019

Before the Super Bowl, Patriots safety Devin McCourty openly pondered retirement. But, on Thursday night, McCourty said he’s “going to play,” (Twitter link via the Sports Spectrum Podcast). 

At that point, that was Media Night when Deion said that to me, and it’s like, yeah, man, if we won a Super Bowl, I don’t know what else could top that,” he said. “I think in that moment I kind of forgot that I don’t play this game just to win Super Bowls. There’s so much more that comes from me playing the game that I love. I think once you get a chance to step away for a couple weeks, you’re like, yeah, I still do want to be around these other young guys that come in.

McCourty is set to earn $9MM in the final year of his deal, though its possible the Patriots will ask him to take a pay cut. Of course, without the threat of retirement, McCourty might not have much in the way of leverage.

Last year, McCourty registered 82 tackles, four passes defensed and a pick six across all 16 games.

The rest of the key secondary players – Patrick Chung, Obi Melifonwu, Nate Ebner, and Duron Harmon – are also set to return to the Pats in ’19.

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