Jason McCourty

Browns Trade Jason McCourty To Patriots

Jason McCourty isn’t being released by the Browns after all. The cornerback has been traded to the Patriots, according to an announcement from Cleveland. The deal will see McCourty and a seventh-round pick head to New England in exchange for the Patriots’ sixth-round choice. 

The Browns announced on Thursday afternoon that they would be releasing McCourty. Quickly, speculation emerged about McCourty joining up with the Patriots, who are in need of a cornerback after losing Malcolm Butler to free agency. He’s going to New England, but it’s going to be via a trade rather than a free agent signing.

Browns GM John Dorsey said that he was moving on from McCourty because he wasn’t sure if he would make the team’s roster in September. That doesn’t necessarily jive with the rest of the league’s assessment of McCourty’s skills. Last year, he graded out as a top-30 cornerback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. His play, according to the advanced metrics, was in line with his best seasons with the Titans in 2012 and 2013.

This, of course, will reunite Jason McCourty with twin brother Devin McCourty, who is entering his ninth season as a Patriots safety. The duo played together at Rutgers, with Jason entering the draft in 2009 and Devin following him a year later.

The McCourtys will turn 31 during Patriots training camp. But the Pats could use a replacement for Butler. They may opt to seek younger help in the draft or at least bolster their position, but a two-McCourty setup could be a common site for New England’s defense this coming season. The Pats still have Eric Rowe in the fold for 2018 as well.

This also continues the Patriots-Browns pipeline that’s been flowing for a bit. Cleveland acquired Jamie Collins from New England in 2016, and the Patriots added Barkevious Mingo from the Browns earlier that year. And last weekend, the Browns shipped Danny Shelton to the Pats.

[RELATED: Patriots Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Seahawks, Nelson, Browns

The Raiders are in the mix to sign Jordy Nelson, but it’s not a done deal just yet. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) cautions not to count out the Seahawks in the Nelson chase, given John Schneider‘s history with the wide receiver.

In 2008, the Packers traded back with the Jets in the second round in order to select Nelson. Schneider was a big reason for that deal as he advocated for Nelson in the war room. Now, Schneider is at the helm in Seattle with a very real chance at signing the veteran.

The Saints, reportedly, are also pushing to sign Nelson.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Browns GM John Dorsey said he released cornerback Jason McCourty because he wasn’t sure he’d make the roster and, given his veteran status, wanted to give him a chance to catch on with another team (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon). McCourty had a solid bounce back year with the Browns, so it’s surprising to hear that Dorsey wasn’t sure if McCourty would quality for the 53-man roster. In any event, he figures to have a ripe market.
  • Meanwhile, Browns coach Hue Jackson confirmed that Tyrod Taylor is the Browns starting quarterback for 2018. “He’s going to be the starting quarterback. There is no competition,” Jackson said (Twitter link via NFL.com’s James Palmer). The Browns hold the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in this year’s draft and one of those selections will almost certainly be used on a QB. Whoever that rookie is, apparently, will be learning from the bench at the outset.
  • The Raiders were a close second for Johnathan Joseph before he agreed to re-sign with the Texans, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Joseph re-upped with Houston on Thursday with a two-year deal.
  • The Eagles and Giants are showing interest in Bears free agent punter Pat O’Donnell, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Browns Release CB Jason McCourty

[UPDATE – The Browns have traded McCourty to the Patriots, rather than releasing him]

The Browns are releasing cornerback Jason McCourty, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. McCourty has personally confirmed the news via social media. 

McCourty joined the Browns last offseason on a two-year, $6MM deal with $2MM guaranteed. However, the new regime is going in a different direction following the free agent pickups of cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell.

One has to imagine that the Patriots will have interest in McCourty. Last offseason, they had interest before he hooked on with Cleveland. Of course, his twin brother twin brother, All Pro safety Devin McCourty, would be an advocate in that regard.

“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback,” McCourty said last year“They have a lot of talent in that room. There really wasn’t room for me. Me and Dev talked about that and that’s just the way of the league. I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Cleveland to work with those guys.”

McCourty missed all of 2015 and had a so-so year in 2016, leading the Titans to cut him. However, he bounced back strong in Cleveland with three interceptions and a top-30 rank on Pro Football Focus’ list of NFL cornerbacks. In that sense, the Browns’ decision to release McCourty is a little perplexing since he was set to carry a reasonable cap hit of less than $3.6MM. The move will bring about nearly $3MM in cap savings for the Browns.

McCourty, 31 in August, could very well be in for a pay raise on his next deal, wherever that may be.

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Extra Points: Beckham, Bears, Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. did not report to Day 1 of Giants OTAs, Dan Duggan of NJ.com reports. The reason for the absence is not known, per Duggan. These are voluntary workouts, so Beckham cannot be fined for missing them. The Giants will convene again Tuesday, and Thursday’s session will be the first featuring media availability. Duggan reports Beckham being absent for this part of Big Blue’s calendar isn’t new; the superstar wideout was not a consistent presence at last year’s OTAs. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver is attached to a $1.8MM salary in 2017, but New York predictably picked up his $8.5MM fifth-year option. Beckham is now eligible for an extension that would stand to be in line with the top receivers in football, and while he’s displayed some mercurial tendencies, he’s already shown himself to be historically dominant Giants playmaker.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Bears are in the process of moving Kyle Long to a third position, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. He and Josh Sitton are set to swap spots, with Long shuttling to left guard and Sitton sliding over to the right side. Sitton has extensive experience at both guard slots, having played at least four years at each. Long, though, has never played left guard in the NFL. He played right tackle in 2015 but was relocated back to his customary right guard slot last season. Long did suit up at left guard while at Oregon. Long is still rehabbing from the ankle injury that ended his season after eight games, Biggs reports. Sitton started at right guard from 2009-12 for the Packers, who switched he and T.J. Lang in 2013 because of Lang’s more physical approach.
  • Justin Pugh signing an extension this offseason would come as a surprise to NJ.com’s James Kratch, who writes that it makes sense for neither side to rush this process. The Giants want to see Pugh make it through a season unscathed after he missed nine combined games between 2014-16. Pugh discussed being in a good spot regarding his second contract, seemingly content to reach free agency after noticing the guard deals of March.
  • Jason McCourty is a possible free safety candidate for the Browns, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. Hue Jackson said the newly acquired defender, a career-long corner, would get a look at safety and the team would play the best four in the secondary. Ed Reynolds will start Cleveland’s OTA workouts at safety, per Jackson. Upon signing, McCourty said he’d be willing to play free safety. Twin brother Devin McCourty, of course, has been a standout back-line defender for the Patriots. It would certainly behoove the Browns to involve McCourty as much as possible, and they are light on experience at safety. They still have Jamar Taylor, who played better in Cleveland than he did in Miami, at corner and drafted Jabrill Peppers as a safety. But the latter doesn’t have much experience there.
  • The Browns will relocate inside linebacker Christian Kirksey to the weak side in Gregg Williams‘ 4-3 look, McManamon reports. Kirksey led the Browns by nearly 50 tackles last season by registering 148 stops.

Pats, Jason McCourty Had “Mutual Interest”

After the Titans released cornerback Jason McCourty in mid-April, speculation abounded that he’d join twin brother and Patriots safety Devin McCourty in New England. Instead, Jason McCourty ultimately inked a deal Tuesday with the Browns. However, it seems the Patriots at least kicked the tires on signing McCourty.

Jason McCourty (Vertical)

“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback,” McCourty told NFL Network on Thursday (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com). “They have a lot of talent in that room. There really wasn’t room for me. Me and Dev talked about that and that’s just the way of the league. I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Cleveland to work with those guys.”

It’s unclear when the Pats showed interest in the 29-year-old McCourty, though they may have viewed him as a fallback option in the event of a Malcolm Butler trade. It appeared earlier this offseason that New England would send Butler to the Saints for draft-pick compensation, potentially the 32nd overall choice, but that never came to fruition. And with Butler still around to serve as one of the Patriots’ top corners, joining big-money offseason signing Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe, there wasn’t a clear fit for McCourty.

While playing with Devin McCourty would’ve been a “dream come true,” Jason McCourty instead looks primed to team with Joe Haden as one of the Browns’ starting corners in 2017. Since signing with the Browns, though, McCourty has indicated that he’d be willing to play free safety (via Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com). Cleveland’s penciled-in No. 1 option there is Ed Reynolds, who started in seven of 10 appearances last season and ranked a respectable 45th among Pro Football Focus’ 90 qualified safeties.

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Patriots Had Interest In CB Jason McCourty

The Patriots had interest in cornerback Jason McCourty before he signed with the Browns, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (Twitter link)."<strong

New England was often listed as a speculative landing spot for McCourty — Mike Reiss of ESPN.com called McCourty an “ideal fit” for the Patriots — but it was never clear if the club had expressed definitive interest in the veteran corner. McCourty’s twin brother, All Pro safety Devin McCourty, plays for New England, and had hoped for his sibling to join him on the Patriots roster.

The Patriots’ need for an additional cornerback, of course, was greatly reduced after the team failed to trade restricted free agent Malcolm Butler to the Saints (or another club). Butler now figures to pair with signee Stephon Gilmore in one of the league’s best secondaries, where they’ll be backed up by Eric Rowe, Justin Coleman, and Cyrus Jones.

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Browns To Sign CB Jason McCourty

Jason McCourty has found a new home. The Browns are signing the cornerback, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a two-year, $6MM deal with $2MM guaranteed, according to Courtney Fallon of NFL.com (on Twitter). "<strong

[RELATED: Browns Rookie CB Howard Wilson Fractures Kneecap]

McCourty met with the Browns on Tuesday and that was his first known visit since being released by the Titans more than one month ago. It didn’t take long for the two sides to agree to terms. McCourty could’ve waited for a camp injury somewhere, but his familiarity with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams helped to quickly facilitate a contract, Rapoport tweets.

The veteran may have lost a step in recent years thanks in part to injuries, but he’ll have an opportunity to redeem himself in Cleveland. It’s likely that he’ll start opposite of Joe Haden, another big-name cornerback who is looking to prove the doubters wrong. There’s also a chance that he could see some time at free safety, allowing him to directly mentor Jabrill Peppers if the rookie wins the top strong safety job.

The Titans cut McCourty to avoid paying him a $7MM base salary in 2017. Terms of his new deal are not yet known, but it’s a safe bet that he’ll be making a lot less in Cleveland.

Length of agreement first reported by Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

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Browns Meet With CB Jason McCourty

Former Titans cornerback Jason McCourty had dinner with Browns coaches and brass on Monday night, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. McCourty is visiting Cleveland’s facility today and will also take a physical. "<strong

McCourty will be 30 years old when the 2017 season gets underway, and there are certainly reasons to be concerned about his recent level of play. Last year, McCourty finished out as just the 55th ranked cornerback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, so while he was still a viable starter, the Titans were probably right in thinking that he wasn’t worth his $7MM base salary. Additionally, McCourty has been banged up in recent seasons. He played through shoulder and chest ailments last year while groin surgeries caused him to miss a dozen games in 2015.

Still, he was excellent from 2010-13 and he was one of the league’s more secondary guys in the league during that time. He could provide some key veteran leadership for the Browns and maybe even recapture some of his old magic in a new environment.

The Titans cut McCourty in mid-April and several teams reportedly phoned him that same week. However, his trip to Cleveland marks his first known visit with a team since he became a free agent. One report indicated that a one-year deal with a maximum of $2MM – similar to the pact Leon Hall inked with the Giants last season — could be a likely outcome for McCourty.

The Browns added a cornerback in the fourth round of the draft when they tapped Houston’s Howard Wilson, but he might be done for the season after suffering a painful knee injury. As it stands, Joe Haden (who is coming off of a down year) and Jamar Taylor are the projected starting cornerbacks.

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Latest On Jason McCourty’s Market

Recently-released cornerback Jason McCourty was scheduled to earn $7MM in 2017, but he’s not expected to come close to that figure on the open market. A one-year deal with a maximum of $2MM — similar to the pact Leon Hall inked with the Giants last season — could be a likely outcome for McCourty, a source tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com.Jason McCourty (vertical)

[RELATED: Top NFL Defensive Free Agents]

There are at least a few reasons to think McCourty can earn more than Hall was forced to accept, however. As Reiss notes, McCourty is nearly three years younger than Hall, who was 31 when he agreed to his New York contract. Additionally, Hall had undergone offseason back surgery, which potentially worried teams about his availability. Hall didn’t land a free agent deal until August of 2016.

On the other hand, McCourty has dealt with recent injury concerns of his own. He suffered shoulder and chest ailments in 2016, while groin surgeries that caused him to miss 12 games the year prior. Plus, McCourty hasn’t posted an above-average campaign since the 2013 season. Hall, meanwhile, had largely maintained his level of play over the past few years.

Teams have already begun inquiring on McCourty, who is expected to be officially cut on Monday. I recently speculated that clubs such as the Bills, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Packers, Saints, and Cardinals could all show interest, while Reiss called the Patriots a “ideal match” for McCourty.

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Teams Reaching Out To CB Jason McCourty

Several NFL teams have already inquired on veteran cornerback Jason McCourty, who is expected to be officially released by the Titans on Monday, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).Jason McCourty (Vertical)

[RELATED: Top NFL Defensive Free Agents]

McCourty will be 30 years old when the 2017 season gets underway, and there are certainly reasons to be concerned about his recent level of play. Last year, McCourty graded as only the No. 55 cornerback in the league, per Pro Football Focus, so while he was still a viable starting defensive back, he probably wasn’t worth his $7MM base salary. Additionally, McCourty has dealt with injuries in recent seasons, including shoulder and chest ailments in 2016, and groin surgeries that caused him to miss 12 games the year prior.

Still, McCourty was an excellent corner from 2010-13, acting as one of the more underrated defensive backs in the league during that span. Clubs with holes in the secondary might pursue McCourty with the hope he can return to that height (or at least, close) once again. Speculatively, teams that could use another cornerback include the Bills, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Lions, Packers, Saints, and Cardinals.

The Patriots, too, stand out as a potential fit, especially if the club ends up parting ways with Malcolm Butler. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com called McCourty an “ideal match” for New England, while Devin McCourty — a Patriots safety and Jason’s twin — would be interested in playing alongside his brother.

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