Devin McCourty is heading into his final year under his rookie contract and will be paid $3.92 million this season. McCourty has been a cornerstone of a struggling Patriots defense in his time in the league. Since he came into the league in 2010, the Patriots have ranked (in order) 25, 31, 25 and 26 in the league as far as total defensive yards given up.
McCourty was asked a leading question that read something like ‘do you think the Patriots can impact a game on the field like the Seahawks?’ to which McCourty answered how he had to.
“I think we can,” McCourty said. “Those guys had a great game plan and they went out there and executed it on the biggest stage of the year. That’s what it really comes down to in games like that. Just last year, we went through a lot defensively and as a team, and to see guys continue to work hard and try to get better and go out there to win as many games as we did — to fall a little short, but it gives you the confidence going forward we know we have the right guys to build something.”
Like I said, you can’t blame him for answering that way, but this defense isn’t even close to what the Seahawks are right now. They are a pass rush and a consistently healthy secondary away from being close to that. They lack a pure pass rusher, a quarterback-agitating interior lineman, a safety next to McCourty and a nasty linebacker to make up for the inevitable loss of Spikes. They have to make multiple moves so when I hear people say ‘they aren’t that far away’ it makes me cringe.
The real story is what the Patriots can do extend McCourty before the season is over. Right now, McCourty counts $5.115 million against the cap, which isn’t a bad number considering the rest of the NFL spends on that position, but you can still make that number smaller.
McCourty has shown he can be versatile and is fast enough to play cornerback, even though I don’t want to see that. The big question to me on McCourty is I find myself wondering if he is a play-maker on defense. He’s a good tackler, reads defenses well, but always seems a step late on any given play.
That being said, McCourty isn’t a top five safety currently, but at the age of 26, he still has an upside. Though he’s not as high on the Patriots list of priorities, extending him early might save them a few million if he has a break-out season.