Why ESPN Ranks Devin McCourty As One Of NFL’s Best Offseason Signings

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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