What Devin McCourty returning means for Patriots

Ryan Hannable
February 22, 2019 - 10:31 am

On Thursday night, it was learned Devin McCourty plans on returning for the 2019 season.

Considering the number of coaches departing on the defensive side of the ball, this is great news for the Patriots with how big of a leader the nine-year veteran is. With that being said, there are a few things that may need to be cleared up with him before the start of the season.

As of now, the 31-year-old is signed through 2019 and has a cap hit of $13.4 million. This is the third-highest on the team and doesn't seem like something Bill Belichick will want going into free agency when as of now it has around $20 million in cap space overall. It would not be a surprise to see now that he's committed to returning, he's asked to take a bit of a pay cut.

The two other safeties -- Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung have cap hits of $4.5 million and $3.6 million respectively. McCourty certainly is deserving of more than those two players, but not almost triple the amount. 

The Rutgers product doesn't seem like a player who will want to play well into his 30s, so an extension to spread out the $13.4 million may not be an option, although it is still possible. It feels like he's year-to-year at this point. Some may say Belichick may try to ship him away like he did with Lawyer Milloy or Logan Mankins, but this doesn't seem realistic given his leadership and the coaching turnover on defense this offseason.

Him returning also likely increases the chances of his twin brother Jason, who will be a free agent in March, returning as well. In their first season together last year, their chemistry fed off onto the rest of the secondary and seemed to be great for everyone involved. 

Lastly, the organization should still look at drafting a safety.

McCourty and Chung will both be 32 years old, while Harmon will be 28. Obi Melifonwu is still in the picture, but he may not be the answer for the future. This feels like the year to take a safety high in the draft to get at least a year or two of learning from these veterans and then be ready to step in when the time comes. With six picks in the first three rounds, the ability to land a quality safety seems to be there.

Overall, it is a good thing McCourty is returning, now the next step may be getting him to restructure.

Related: Devin McCourty says he will play next season