One of the biggest questions for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots heading into the offseason is the future of their secondary. While cornerback Darrelle Revis and his $25 million cap hit for 2015 have dominated the headlines in Boston this month, the more significant decision might be whether the Patriots try to retain safety Devin McCourty, who is set to hit free agency in March.
McCourty is the most likely candidate on the Patriots to get the franchise tag (Revis’ contract does not allow it), which is expected to be roughly $9.6 million for safeties next season. New England could tag McCourty in order to give the team more time to negotiate a long-term contract with his agent, or the 27-year-old could play out the 2015 season at the franchise tag number. Teams have until March 2 to use their franchise tag.
Speaking at an event at Lowell High on Wednesday, McCourty said that he’s not worried about getting tagged and would be fine with a one-year deal next season, via CSN New England:
“I’ve kind of broken it down as the worst-case scenario would be that I get franchised and come back to play for another year here,” McCourty said. “To me that’s no reason to stress. I love it here. The franchise tag is player-friendly now. It’s a good number. There’s no reason really for me to be stressed. If I hit free agency, I hope there’s some teams that want me to play there.
“I’ve thought about all different scenarios whether I’m here or whether I’m somewhere else,” he said. “At this point, I don’t have a contract. It could happen that I could be playing somewhere else. I think it would be crazy not to think that that could be reality. I’ve thought about all those scenarios.”
McCourty was the backbone of a dominant Patriots secondary that ranked third-best in Pro Football Focus’ pass coverage ratings last year. The 2010 first-round pick and Pro Bowler finished the regular season with 78 tackles, nine passes defended and two interceptions.