Considering Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, most New England Patriots fans likely believe the team has had a miserable offseason. And, well, they might be right.

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad for New England since the start of NFL free agency.

The 32-year-old safety and the Patriots recently agreed to a five-year contract extension that, for all intents and purposes, really is a two-year deal. And, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the move represents one of the best signings of the NFL offseason.

From his column published Friday:

Grade: B+
While there were rumors that one of the organizations stocked with former Patriots coaches and executives would make a run at McCourty, the presence of twin brother Jason and coach Bill Belichick made it more likely that the 10-year veteran would return to his only professional home. The two-time Pro Bowler was one of the best safeties in football a year ago, picking off five passes for the first time since 2012 while allowing a passer rating of just 50.6 as the nearest defender in coverage. This is hardly top-of-the-market money for a safety, so while McCourty is likely to have most or all of this deal guaranteed up front, it’s a logical win-win for both sides.

One other subtle thing about this deal is the structure. McCourty was New England’s second-most-pressing free agent behind Tom Brady and the only other player the team was likely to consider signing to a deal north of $10 million per year. If the Pats were desperately concerned about their cap space, they would have given McCourty a longer deal with a big signing bonus to try to create short-term cap room.

For what it’s worth, Brady’s deal with the Buccaneers received the highest grade (A) from Barnwell.

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