The New England Patriots swung a deal yesterday to acquire cornerback Jason McCourty from the Cleveland Browns along with a 7th round pick (No. 219) for a 2018 6th rounder (No. 205). Bill Belichick essentially moves down 14 slots late in the draft and adds a veteran leader, at a position of need with an affordable $3M cap hit. Big win for the Patriots as they look to bolster their secondary. Adding the brother of one of their best players and leaders will go a long way in shoring up the defense next season.
The Patriots saw former corner Malcolm Butler ink a 5-year, $61M deal with Tennessee, whom we all knew was going to depart via free agency after all that unfolded last season and especially in the Super Bowl. Then, two of their targets for the second cornerback slot quickly came off the board. Richard Sherman was released and signed with the San Francisco 49ers to a deal he was never going to get in Foxboro and Aqib Talib was dealt to the Rams at his $11M cap hit for a late-round pick.
Instead of overspending on a second corner, the Patriots got a productive veteran who can still compete at a high level at an affordable price without giving up any assets they could use to bolster the rest of the roster. Jason, like his brother Devin, is a leader and will be a welcomed addition to Coach Belichick’s locker room. Unlike Devin who has already won a pair of Super Bowls, he is yet to compete at the highest level seeing as he’s never played in a playoff game. A fact surely to change during the 2018 season.
The Patriots can still draft a corner at some point, but with Stephon Gillmore as their No. 1 corner and now with Jason McCourty opposite him, they are set as far as starters at the position. Eric Rowe started plenty for New England last season and he will return as well as Jonathan Jones and third-year corner Cyrus Jones who missed all of last season.
This is your typical Patriots off-season. Other teams are spending lucrative amounts of money on free agents while Bill Belichick watches the market play out and finds players to sign or acquire at a lesser price that fit his system and can succeed for his football team.
So far the Patriots have brought in or are scheduled to bring in the following players for visits: Giants LB Jonathan Casillas, Lions TE Eric Ebron, Bengals RB Jeremy Hill, Browns TE Asante Cleveland, and Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn. All veteran players at positions of need or depth that would be welcomed additions with the football team.
With Nate Solder departing for a record contract with the New York Giants, I’d expect the Patriots address the tackle spot early in the draft as well as adding depth to the linebacker position. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of this off-season plays out, but there’s no denying adding Jason McCourty was a sound business decision for the football team on and off the field.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank