Devin McCourty’s trip to unrestricted free agency ended two days before it began.
That reality arrived Sunday night when Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported the top available free safety had agreed to a five-year, $47.5 million contract with the New England Patriots.
McCourty, a Patriots first-round pick in 2010, tested the waters but turned down more money elsewhere, noted Rapoport. And in turn, he will now become the second-highest paid safety in the NFL behind only Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks.
The 27-year-old Super Bowl XLIX champion will have $28.5 million of his contract guaranteed, according ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, surpassing the $27.725 million in guarantees Thomas received last April.
The demand for No. 32 illustrated why.
McCourty was officially scheduled to enter free agency Tuesday at 4 p.m., with offers from the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles surfacing during the league’s legal tampering period over the weekend, in addition to interest from his twin brother’s team, the Tennessee Titans.
“All those teams, for different reasons, were high on my list. And I was close,” McCourty said on Comcast Sports Net New England’s Sports Sunday. “I’m like any other human being. When you start going over different places. You know, all the places – the money was good. You start crossing off things that you like, and all of those teams were good fits, I felt, for me. There was a chance I would have ended up at one of those places. But I was happy that myself, Bill [Belichick] and all of the guys in the front office were able to work out a deal.”
His deal will keep him with the team he’s played 77 games for over the last five regular seasons.
“We had certain benchmarks and numbers we felt got that done,” McCourty detailed. “It was never going to be about ‘just do whatever came in as the highest price.’ You want to be happy, and you want to win. We felt we had an opportunity, and really, all those places we saw ways we could win. But obviously, being in New England for five years, there’s no kind of mystery or question. I know we can win here, we’ve already done it. So, that’s where they came in first in that category.”
A defensive captain for the last three seasons, McCourty was once seen as the leading candidate for New England’s one-year franchise tag – at a positional rate of $9.6 million – before kicker Stephen Gostkowski was designated at the deadline last Monday.
It was a safety risk the organization proved willing to take. And less than one full week later, it has resulted in long-term certainty for both the two-time second-team All-Pro and the defensive backfield.
“Financially, they stepped up and hit all the numbers that I wanted, McCourty added. “I think that’s what mattered, what was going to make me happy.”
As for whats next for the Patriots, focus shifts to four-time first-team All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis, who is expected to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year Tuesday afternoon.
But with McCourty, the first shoe has dropped. It now comes down to waiting for the second one.
“I actually spoke to him,” McCourty said of Revis. “But I told him, I feel like, the same thing 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. I would never hit him up and try to pressure him into doing something. I already told him I already gained a teammate for the rest of my NFL career anyway, because we already train together. I’ll see him again in Arizona and hopefully I’ll see him again in July in training camp.”