Patriots fans were having trouble staying enthusiastic about the prospect of Eric Rowe starting at cornerback across from Stephon Gilmore in New England’s defense next season.
They should be a lot more content after the Patriots acquired Jason McCourty in a trade with the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns were set to release McCourty when they instead traded the veteran cornerback to New England, where he’ll reunite with his twin brother, and Patriots safety, Devin McCourty. Jason is set to earn less than $3 million in 2018, which makes him a much more affordable option than other players the Patriots could have acquired this offseason, like Aqib Talib or Richard Sherman. The Patriots only had to swap late-round picks to get McCourty from Cleveland, giving up a sixth-round pick and receiving the cornerback and a seventh-rounder in return.
This is the second trade the Patriots have made under the Browns’ new leadership. New England acquired defensive tackle Danny Shelton in a trade with Cleveland for a swap of picks over the weekend.
The Patriots had a void at cornerback when Malcolm Butler signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Tennessee Titans. McCourty might not be a long-term solution at cornerback, and he comes with less upside than Butler, but he’s also a far less risky acquisition.
In 14 games last season, McCourty let up 56 catches on 83 targets for 646 yards with five touchdowns allowed and three interceptions. If he doesn’t work out, then the Patriots can freely let him go. And if he does work out, then he’s a starting caliber cornerback to pair with Gilmore.
The trade also fulfills Jason and Devin’s dream of playing in the same secondary at the NFL level. It could finally get Jason into the postseason, too. Jason and Devin played together at Rutgers for three years before Jason left for the NFL. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Devin left a year later and was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Devin has made the postseason every year. Jason has yet to make his playoff debut.
With Jason on the team, the Patriots can focus their attention elsewhere throughout the rest of the offseason. They still need help at offensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker.
The Patriots needed to get better on defense after letting Butler walk. This certainly is a step in the right direction.