The longtime leader of the New England Patriots’ defense is hanging up his cleats.
Safety Devin McCourty on Friday announced his retirement from the NFL in a video with his brother, former Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty.
“I am officially retiring from the NFL,” Devin McCourty said. “It has been a great ride.”
McCourty said he informed Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and several members of New England’s defensive staff about his decision.
“Unbelievable ride, man,” he said. “I think it’s always tough to kind of come to the end, as you know. This offseason has been so much back and forth for me mentally. … But ultimately, I think this is the best decision for me, for my family, for my career, for me to be able to now look back at my 13 years and just enjoy it.”
McCourty played all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Patriots, who drafted him in the first round in 2010. He served as a team captain for 12 of those seasons and rarely left the field for New England, missing just five games in his career and none over his final seven seasons.
The 35-year-old played at least 925 snaps in every season since at least 2012, when Pro-Football-Reference began recording snap count data. In 2022, he played 97% of New England’s defensive snaps and tied for the team lead with four interceptions. He also wore the green dot as the Patriots’ primary defensive communicator for his last several seasons.
In his career, McCourty totaled 35 interceptions, 110 passes defended, seven fumble recoveries, 971 tackles and three touchdowns (two pick-sixes and one on a kick return). He started every game he played, made two Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and will be a shoo-in for the Patriots Hall of Fame.
McCourty acknowledged before the Patriots’ 2022 season finale that he was considering retirement. In what proved to be his final game, he recorded an interception, a fumble recovery and an end-zone pass breakup in a road loss at Buffalo.
The Patriots now must find a way to replace McCourty’s coverage ability, versatility, leadership and veteran savvy at the free safety position. They have fellow safeties Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and Joshuah Bledsoe under contract for the upcoming season but don’t have an obvious McCourty successor on their roster.
New England could look to fill that void through free agency, the 2023 NFL Draft or with a position change, as cornerbacks Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills and Myles Bryant all have some free safety experience. Jones and Bryant are impending free agents.