It is hard to imagine recently retired safety Devin McCourty in a different uniform after he spent all 13 seasons of his NFL career with the New England Patriots.
But once his rookie contract expired following the 2014 season, McCourty almost packed up and left New England.
In a recent appearance on Chris Long’s “Green Light” podcast, McCourty detailed how things went down during that free-agency period and also revealed the two teams that nearly lured him away from the Patriots.
“The first time I was a free agent, (Darrelle) Revis also came for that one year, Revis was a free agent,” McCourty said. “I think the team (thought), ‘I’m the born-in Patriot, we got to keep him. But we got a chance to keep Darrelle Revis.’ I think once it fell through with Revis, I think that’s when they came back. But that year, talking to Philadelphia and Jacksonville, I was pretty close in leaving.”
McCourty never signed an extension during his entire tenure with the Patriots, but New England did approach him with a contract offer as he entered the final year of his rookie deal.
McCourty recalled the Patriots low-balling him, and when the organization didn’t initially acquiesce to his contract demands, the situation left a bad taste in his mouth.
“Going into my fifth year, they offer something super low. We counter super high. And then they were like, ‘All right, we’re too far apart. We’ll just wait until the end of the season,’ ” McCourty said. “I remember when I first heard that I was like, ‘Oh (expletive). I’m not important. OK.’ So, when I got to free agency I was like, ‘All right, well now there is no deal. Like, there’s no discount. There’s none of that.’ Each time I got to free agency, I could choose where I wanted to go. So, I used that as leverage.”
Even with leverage and the Eagles and Jaguars courting him, McCourty, who was coming off a Super Bowl victory with the Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks, found his way back to New England in the 2015 offseason. He ended up signing a five-year deal worth $47.5 million.
“You’ve been on a team for five years and then you’re fifth year you win a Super Bowl and the team’s still (intact) — you still got (Tom) Brady. So, I wanted to go back,” McCourty said. “But I was like, ‘I want to get paid.’ The night before free agency opens, Bill (Belichick) called me, I talked to (Robert) Kraft, talked to my agent and we got everything done by like the next morning, right before I was actually going to ESPN that day.”
Everything certainly worked out for McCourty and the Patriots as he was a staple in New England’s defense for more than a decade.