Jason McCourty agreed to terms on a two-year deal Wednesday, according to a league source.
Trading for McCourty was one of the Patriots’ shrewdest moves last offseason. They swapped late-round picks with the Browns, moving down just 14 slots from No. 205 overall to No. 219, to acquire McCourty, who was set to be released, without competition on the free agent market.
After a year in which he played in every game and was rated the sixth-best cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, they’re keeping him in the fold with his twin brother Devin.
McCourty finished with 70 tackles, one interception, and 10 pass defenses during the regular season, then tacked on another 10 tackles and four pass defenses during the playoffs. His most memorable play came in the Super Bowl, when he covered a remarkable amount of ground to break up a pass from Jared Goff to Brandin Cooks in the back of the end zone.
McCourty played 80 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps during the regular season and was one of four Patriots defensive players who played every snap in the Super Bowl.
In McCourty, the Patriots retain a team leader. He’s a good communicator who cares about teaching younger players, skills that could come in especially handy as the defensive coaching staff goes through a transitional year. Last year’s defensive play caller Brian Flores and cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer are gone, but McCourty’s college coach Greg Schiano is on his way in as the new defensive coordinator.
Veteran leaders are often conduits from coaches to their position groups, and both McCourty twins should know how to communicate with Schiano right off the bat. Schiano figures to work heavily with the defensive backs especially, since Bret Bielema is there to help with the defensive linemen.
McCourty had a strong season and should have gotten interest from other teams. The Patriots had an advantage, though, in that remaining in New England allows McCourty to continue playing alongside his brother, something the two have wanted to do in the NFL since they were kids. Devin McCourty is under contract for another year, though the team could try to decrease his cap hit by extending him so that his deal matches his brother’s in length.