It wasn't without some stress and fear from a fan base on edge, but the Patriots were able to re-sign one of their own late last night in free safety Devin McCourty. McCourty had the freedom to negotiate with other teams starting on Saturday and there were at least five teams that showed serious interest. No team showed more interest than the Philadelphia Eagles, but McCourty allowed the Patriots to make one more offer to match Philadelphia and they were able to work out a deal.
The deal was first reported by Fox Sports on Sunday night, and McCourty confirmed the deal during an interview on Comcast Sportsnet New England. McCourty also spent a considerable part of the day at the ESPN studio and spoke about how the deal went down.
"I'm blessed to say we had other teams that were interested, but I said all along that I knew in my heart that I wanted to be back in New England. But I also knew the business side of football, and I had to do what I had to do. I'm back, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't possibilities over the last two days that I was going to be somewhere else. I'm happy it all worked out."
The Patriots simply couldn't afford to lose a player of McCourty's ability and character, and Belichick stepped up financially when he knew he was about to possibly lose a player that would be difficult to replace. Belichick has struggled to find a great safety since Rodney Harrison retired, and the last two years McCourty has been one of the top three safeties in football; he'll now be paid as such. McCourty received $47.5 million over the life of the deal, but the real money is the $28 million guaranteed. That is the most guaranteed money ever paid out to a safety. It is time to stop talking abut the Patriots being cheap because over the last seven years they have been paying players top dollar, assuming they are one of the best at their position.
McCourty, who was picked 27th in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Patriots, has played both cornerback and safety in his career, although it's obvious that free safety is the position McCourty was made to play. McCourty has started every game he has appeared in (77 out of 77) and has totaled 303 solo tackles, 96 assisted tackles, 17 interceptions, 59 passes defended, seven forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. McCourty is a two-time 1st Team All-Pro (2010- Sporting News, 2013- Pro Football Focus) and three-time Second Team All-Pro (2010-AP, 2012-Pro Football Focus, 2013-AP).