An 11th-hour deal – almost literally – has kept Devin McCourty in New England.
Late Sunday night, the safety and Patriots co-captain appeared on Comcast SportsNet New England to discuss his decision to forego free agency and remain a New England Patriot. After placing a last-minute call to head coach Bill Belichick, in which McCourty apparently was bidding his boss farewell, McCourty said he received a final offer from the team that satisfied all his requirements.
According to multiple media reports, McCourty will receive a five-year, $47.5 million pact, of which $28.5 million is guaranteed. That contract can become official when the new NFL year begins at 4 p.m EST on Tuesday, March 10, which is also the start of the league's free agent signing period.
The NFL allows its clubs to begin negotiating with players who are about to become free agents during a three-day window immediately preceding the Tuesday start of the league year. In that time, teams and players can get a sense of what the free agents' values might be and to agree to parameters of contracts that can be executed once the league year officially commences.
In McCourty's case, it appeared he was prepared to sign elsewhere before the Patriots stepped up with their offer on Sunday.
"Philly, the Giants, the Jags, the Titans… All of those teams, for different reasons, were high on my list. I was close," McCourty admitted to CSNNE. "I'm like any other human being. All the places, the money was good, and you start crossing off things that you like. All of those teams were good fits, I felt, for me. There was a chance I would have ended up in one of those places, but I was happy that myself, Bill and all the guys in the front office were able to work out a deal.
"Financially, they stepped up and hit all the numbers I wanted. I think that's what mattered and what was going to make me happy… and winning and happiness to me also comes in. I felt like the goal for myself was to be taken care of financially for myself, my kids in the future, and my extended family. We had certain benchmarks and numbers that we felt got that done. It was never going to be 'just do what came in as the highest price.' We wanted to be happy and we wanted to win."
McCourty stressed on Sunday, as he had in recent media interviews, that his preference was to stay with the club that drafted him in the first round in 2010 and that christened him a co-captain in just his second season. Citing a winning atmosphere, the player reiterated his "heart" was always in New England.
Now that he's been taken care of by the Patriots, the team's next order of business must be to re-sign McCourty's secondary teammate, cornerback Darrelle Revis. While the Patriots have the option of picking up the second year of Revis' current contract, it would come at a hefty price tag to the team's salary cap ($25 million). As a result, the Patriots would seem to prefer to negotiate a longer-term deal that is both satisfactory to the player and more amenable to their salary cap.
McCourty was asked about the Revis situation Sunday night and said he is hoping for a similar resolution for his Super Bowl-winning teammate. The two are very close personal friends who train together in the offseason.
"I actually spoke to [Revis], but I told him the same thing I feel like he would tell me. I want him back here, I want to play with him, he's a great teammate and the best corner in the game. But I also know it's a business and I would never hit him up and try to pressure him into doing something.
"I already know he's going to do what's best for him I already told him… and hopefully I'll see him again in July in training camp."