Over the following weeks, here at Franchise Sports we will be covering the NFL free agency period, with previews of players hitting the market and reaction pieces to the biggest moves. I get us started with a discussion on Jason McCourty‘s impending free agency.
Just 12 months ago, the Rutgers alum was coming off a year in which his individually solid performances had been overshadowed by an abysmal 0-16 record in Cleveland. This was, of course, before being traded to New England, where he joined up with twin brother Devin in a very strong secondary in Foxboro. He joked about only ever making the Super Bowl as one of Devin’s “plus ones” but now the veteran CB has a Super Bowl Ring all of his own.
Jason became a key member of the New England secondary down the stretch; starting most games alongside Stephon Gilmore and undrafted rookie JC Jackson in a top-tier defensive backs rotation. Despite Gilmore usually matching up with the bigger-bodied “X” receivers, McCourty can cover any assignment, as proved in his lone year in Cleveland back in 2017.
The 31-year old has superb coverage skills and is a sound tackler in open-field (both standard traits for a Patriots CB), this combination leads to very few blown assignments, and allows McCourty to track some of the game’s best receivers.
Expect McCourty to sign with a contender this offseason. He’s quite old for a cornerback, so his years as a top guy are likely coming to a close. He will likely sign a one-year deal with a good team, who believe that they can compete next year. He is a guy who can fit in most teams, due to his ability to play zone or man to a high level.
Philadelphia could be in the market for a reliable, but fairly cheap CB; and his age fits with their current roster – one that is built for immediate contention but will need an overhaul in the next couple of years. His style of play fits with the way that Jim Schwartz asks his DBs to play, and he could provide an older presence for young guys like Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox. Similarly, McCourty could be a fit in Houston, where he would fit in for mostly the same reasons as in Philadelphia. The Texans have a lot of questions at CB, and he could fill a big need for them.
However, the most likely scenario is a return to Foxboro to play with his twin. They are both entering the back-end of their careers, and it is unlikely that Jason can get a long-term deal on the open market. As such, why not return to New England, a team renowned for short-term deals, especially for talented veterans, and compete again next season. Both sides seem interested in a reunion, and it just seems to make the most sense for the veteran.