The Case for Extending Devin McCourty

New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty is one of the best players at his position in the NFL. A prototypical centerfielder FS, he is adept at breaking up big plays deep in the secondary. Should the Patriots re-sign this free-agent-to-be?


 

Patriots safety Devin McCourty is a free agent after the season. He began his Patriots career with a terrific debut season in 2010 during which the first-round pick (27th overall) made the Pro Bowl as a cornerback, hauling in seven interceptions along the way. He bounced between corner and safety in 2011 and 2012 amidst his own struggles and those of the pass defense as a whole. Then in 2013 he posted the worst raw statistical performance of his career, with lows in tackles, interceptions and passes defended. But McCourty is far from another busted high pick in the secondary in the vein of Ras-I Dowling and Terrence Wheatley ‒ he is one of the best safeties in football and a player the Patriots should prioritize signing to a contract extension.

McCourty’s heady play on Sunday displayed his ability to impact a game. The Patriots were trailing 7-0 and went three-and-out on their first possession. Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel dropped back and launched a pass towards Jarius Wright, who had a step on Kyle Arrington on a deep post route.

 

McCourty was shaded to the other side of the field but had enough range to close and make the interception, which he returned 60 yards to set up the game-tying score. The Patriots seemed energized by the play and outscored the Vikings 30-0 over the rest of the game.

Any player can make one play, but Sunday’s interception was no fluke. McCourty might have been the best free safety in the NFL in 2013, the first season where he played almost exclusively at safety. Proprietary stats provider Pro Football Focus named him a unanimous selection to their All-Pro team, adding, “McCourty wound up with our highest grade of the year, with his work in coverage the real standout element of his game.” McCourty’s raw numbers suffered in large part because teams just didn’t throw in his direction; per PFF, he was targeted at the sixth-lowest rate among the 70 safeties that played the most.

Numbers are fine, but where McCourty shines is his impact on the rest of the secondary. Below is a still-shot from the Patriots’ tilt with the Saints in week six of 2013. New England held the Saints to just 230 yards in the air, their second-lowest output on the season. Aqib Talib justifiably got recognized for the job he did defending star tight end Jimmy Graham, but in the picture you can see the role McCourty (#32 in the picture) played, taking away the deep middle of the field. This allowed the other pass defenders to play up and disrupt their men ‒ seven Patriots are within a yard or two of the line of scrimmage. The Saints completed just 2 of 10 passes classified as “deep” and didn’t even attempt a throw in the deep middle. Nine of quarterback Drew Brees’ 17 completed passes (out of 36 attempted) were to running backs. It was a terrific performance against a strong passing attack and McCourty played a key role. Historically, the Patriots have eschewed traditional “strong” and “free” designations, but McCourty possesses the range and instincts of a prototypical Cover 1 FS, skills the Patriots used against New Orleans and throughout the 2013 campaign.

Moreover, McCourty checks all the boxes in terms of doing things “The Patriot Way.” He was just named a Team Captain for 2014, an honor he’s been awarded by his teammates each year since 2011 when he was a second-year player. Even before the end of his rookie season, Head Coach Bill Belichick had already placed McCourty in the class of Ray Lewis and Lawyer Milloy as one of the most impressive players at breaking down film he’s ever worked with. And while McCourty played almost exclusively at safety in 2013, his versatility to move between safety and corner has come in handy in the past, as recently as late 2012 when starting corners Talib and Alfonzo Dennard were both injured.

And here is where things get complicated. McCourty made the Pro Bowl as a cornerback in 2010 and it was only after some adversity in 2011 and 2012 ‒ as well as struggles on the part of the defensive backfield ‒ that McCourty was shifted to safety. In similar fashion to Saints hybrid TE/WR Jimmy Graham, McCourty is technically a safety but has experience and the ability to play at cornerback, too. What is a fair market price for a player with his resumé?

Fellow 2010 first round pick and another player mentioned in the conversation of best safety in the NFL, Earl Thomas of Seattle, signed a contract extension in the offseason. The deal, a new league record for the position, will pay him $40 million (M) over four seasons, with $27.75M of that guaranteed. Other peers have also signed lucrative new contracts: Jairus Byrd inked a six-year deal with New Orleans worth $56M ($28M guaranteed), and T.J. Ward signed with the Denver Broncos, earning $22.5M over four seasons ($14M guaranteed).

Cornerback is where the real money is, however. Per overthecap.com, there are 14 corners with contracts that average at least $8M annually, and just five safeties. McCourty’s new teammate Darrelle Revis set the high-watermark for corners last season at $16M for the year. And McCourty’s twin brother Jason, a cornerback with the Tennessee Titans, signed a five-year contract extension worth $43M, $20M of it guaranteed. If McCourty and his agents see him as a corner rather than a safety, they may be looking for a deal that pays him in the neighborhood of where Earl Thomas ($10M per year) has set the bar.

However, it would be surprising to see the Patriots agreeing to that valuation. McCourty is due $3.97M in this final year of his rookie contract. They can lock up McCourty with the franchise tag for safeties, which was $6.9M in 2013 and $8.4M in 2014. Next year’s figure for McCourty’s position projects to be well below the 2015 franchise tag for cornerbacks given their 2013 and 2014 values of $10.8M and $11.8M respectively. Of course, by applying the tag to McCourty the Patriots would risk making him unhappy; fans may recall the situations that sent Asante Samuel and Deion Branch out of town.

Devin McCourty is a quality player among the best at his position in the NFL. He has great physical and mental abilities, little in the way of injury flags, and is regarded as a leader and a hard worker. At 27, he should have many more productive years. He was integral to what the Patriots did as a defense in 2013 and we can expect to see more of the same this year. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know what his contract demands will be given his unique background. The franchise tag seems most likely. Patriots fans should hope things play out like they did for Vince Wilfork (who signed a big extension just weeks after getting tagged) rather than going the route Samuel and Branch went down. The Patriots’ secondary would suffer without #32 roaming the deep middle.

Jae Barclay also contributed to this article. Video courtesy of NFL Game Rewind.

Follow Dave on Twitter @davearchie.

Dave Archibald knows pass defense, specifically how coverage, the pass rush, excellent cornerbacks, versatile safeties and in-game adjustments can make a big difference.

39 thoughts on “The Case for Extending Devin McCourty

  1. I think his agents would be dumb to try to present DMC as a CB — his last two years at the position were pretty awful.  So I think they will (and shoudl) stick to presenting him as one of the game’s best safeties.  I wonder if we will see another contract structured like Gronk’s where there are essentially two contracts, the second kicking in 3 or 4 years down the road.

  2. I hope his agents dont waste everyone’s time trying to go the safety/corner route.  Based on results McCourty’s natural position is really FS, and he hasnt played corner for a few years.  Its not as if there was a ton of talent in front of him, so he was really playing safety for a reason.
     
    The more relevant issue as I see it, is how much money is Bill willing to spend on safety?  Assuming he wants to keep Revis, there are only so many dollars to go around for the backfield.  I’m assuming something in the $5-6M range would work, but once we start talking about $8M or $10M cap hits, thats something I just cant see them doing.  I’m also sure his agents will point to the 4yr / $16M deal we gave to Arrington and say that based on that the starting point should be $5-6M.
     
    Would something like a 6 yr $42M deal get it done?  With say $20M in signing bonus and some miniscule salaries the first few years to keep those cap hits at $4-5M  Then he wouldnt be a cap hit problem for say 3 years, and with the $20M bonus I would think that might be enough considering its close to the range of the Byrd deal.
     
    I’m really having a tough time putting a target on how far the Pats would be willing to go.

  3. The Byrd deal is $18MM guaranteed/$54MM total with a bit of a funky structure (his cap hit is only $3.5MM this year, then is about $10MM a year). 
     
    Jason McCourty makes $17MM/$43MM guaranteed, signed two years ago.  His cap numbers are $4.8-$8.8 and he’s cuttable by year 5 (and arguably by year 4)
     
    Somewhere between those numbers works for me. His cap number this year is already north of $5MM this year and the cap is going up, so I think there’s space under the cap for a $7-$9MM annual hit.
     
    Im definitely franchising him next year if I can’t sign him to an extension, its only like a $1.5MM-$2MM hit vs. this year’s figure, but he’s really a guy they need to lock up for the next four years

  4. Im definitely franchising him next year if I can’t sign him to an extension, its only like a $1.5MM-$2MM hit vs. this year’s figure, but he’s really a guy they need to lock up for the next four years

     
    EDIT: Pats have pretty much no big salary cap commitments for ’16 and beyond besides Brady and Mayo (and I expect Mayo wont be playing ’16 under his current deal). They can part ways or restructure Gronk if they want (hopefully they don’t and Im not advocating it, but they aren’t stuck with a big contract yet beyond ’15 if Gronk gets hurt again/doesn’t get back to 100%) and the next four hits (Wilfork/Amendola/Arrington/Ninkovich) aren’t going to be on the team in ’16 and beyond under their current contracts.  Given the expected cap escalation, they can fit a McCourty deal in pretty easily IMO. 

     
    Agree 100% on the franchise because that figure is super low.  I believe they can even tag him twice which wouldnt be a bad deal either.
     
    However, cap wise things arent all that rosy.  In 2016 things look great but thats because no one is really signed for those years.  Some core guys like Solder, Chandler Jones and McCourty need to get new deals which will take up significant dollars.  Say Solder and McCourty are $8M cap hit guys, and Jones is $10M there is $26M in spending.  For the 28 guys we have signed, there are $85M in cap hits (from over the cap), now the running total is $111M  Lets say we fill the remaining 22 slots with 11 guys at $2M each and 11 guys at $1M each, that adds another $33M in spending leaving us at $143M on possibly a $150-160M cap.  That really doesnt leave much budget for free agent spending.
     
    Just looking at next year, we have $136M in cap hits (from over the cap), and lets say we cut Revis and move on and lets take the whole $5M cap hit next year, so now our spending is at $106M without Revis or McCourty and we have Solder and Chandler Jones in the last year of their deals. 
     
    I’m not suggesting that we have cap problems, but instead before we make any general observations about cap numbers we really also need to incorporate who is off the roster in future years.  We can sign Solder, Jones and McCourty but then we certainly cant afford Revis, I mean technically we can but our depth is going to really, really suffer.  When it comes down to it, we probably need to prioritize on these 3 and I think I’d have McCourty certainly behind Jones and closely behind Solder because I really dont want to see another rookie coming in trying to protect Brady’s blindside as he ages.  Managing the cap in isolation looks pretty easy, but in totality its really difficult.

  5. That’s mostly fair, the difference between us is I have McCourty at the very top of the list of players on the current roster to reup (Jones certainly might get there).  Im signing him over Solder long-term at this point despite the importance of left tackle given the concussion history and recent play.  Im choosing him over making Revis the highest paid CB in the game.  Im choosing him over keeping Mayo at Mayo’s current contract.  I might choose him over keeping Gronk at Gronk’s current contract depending on how the year plays out.
     
    I think the cap is a little bit better than you think.  That $85MM in cap hits for ’16 includes (cap/dead money if play ’15 and cut in ’16)
     
    Mayo $10.4/2,4
    Amendola $6.7/$2.4
    Gronk $6.6/not cuttable if he’s still here
    Wilfork $6.4/$433K
    Browner $5.5/0
    Arrington $5.1/$1.6
    LaFell $3.8/$1
    Nink $3.2/$1.2
     
    That’s $46MM of cap space, and much of its not going to actually be taken up by those players (LaFell and Amendola wont be here, Arrington and Wilfork wont be here on close to those contracts, Browner is unlikely to be here, Ninkovich is smaller dollars but a good restructure bet at that point, Gronk is a little bit of a wild card, and Mayo we’ll see, but that’s a big cap number).
     
    Obviously if they move on from someone and can’t restructure cheaper then they have to replace the player, but I think they can replace that overall production for a helluva lot less than $46MM of cap space.

  6. Ok, you convinced me that McCourty should be ahead of Solder, I forgot about the concussion risk.  But you really dont have Jones over McCourty?  I think Jones plays the more important position, he is more likely to take over a game and while McCourty will be 28 in the first year of his next deal, Jones will be 26  Now they are staggered a year so it may seem like they are unrelated but you still have to budget for both.
     
    On Revis, I think we are on the same page.  He’s going to be 30 next year and based on the first 2 games I dont know if he can be a lock-down guy on speedy receivers at this point.  Wallace certainly held his own against him even with some drops and Wallace really isnt that great.  Then Bill put him on Jennings instead of Patterson.  Its tough to justify giving him highest corner in the league money when he is 30+ and the scope of his lock-down work seems to be shrinking.
     
    Regarding the guys you mention for 2016, I have to disagree on Mayo.  I think his contract probably needs to be addressed but unlike Mankins they have the leverage to work something out because those savings are so high and most importantly I think he is the glue that holds that LB core together, without him I think they really struggle over the long run.  I can see Amendola, Browner and Arrington being cut, and sadly I can see Wilfork being cut so there is ~$20M in savings and thats being conservative with the hits.  So now $65M in commitments on a $150-160 cap is really, really good even with just 24 guys on the books.

  7. Jones hopefully gets there this year.  Right now McCourty is pretty consistently excellent and much more consistent than Jones has been, if I had to only sign one of them today to a big money deal Id sign McCourty.
     
    I don’t disagree on Mayo’s value and think the most likely outcome is an extension if he’s still playing at a high level.

  8. I guess this is a preference thing but even if talent wise Jones is ranked behind McCourty, I’d prioritize a good passing rushing DE over a great safety.  In the current landscape of the NFL, IMO pass rushers are the guys on the field that can really dominate a defense. 

  9. Unless Earl Thomas is involved I pretty much agree. I just want to make sure Jones is really a good pass rushing DE first and make sure he’s not going to want to get paid like a great pass rushing DE if he’s not one.

  10. Unless Earl Thomas is involved I pretty much agree. I just want to make sure Jones is really a good pass rushing DE first and make sure he’s not going to want to get paid like a great pass rushing DE if he’s not one.

     
    There’s a pretty good case that McCourty is as good as Thomas right now. I think his time at CB has clouded our perceptions of him; as a safety he is either #1 or #2 and the third guy is a fair way down from that level.

  11. Priority to re-sign long-term:
     
    1.  Revis – total game-changer
    2.  Jones – on the cusp of greatness
    3.  McCourty – already a top S, but that position isn’t quite as important as the other two
    4.  Solder – though I’m now curious about his health and performance this year
     
    My two cents (which is probably all that this is worth….).

  12. Priority to re-sign long-term:
     
    1.  Revis – total game-changer
    2.  Jones – on the cusp of greatness
    3.  McCourty – already a top S, but that position isn’t quite as important as the other two
    4.  Solder – though I’m now curious about his health and performance this year
     
    My two cents (which is probably all that this is worth….).

     
    This is the way I see it as well.

  13. Ok, you convinced me that McCourty should be ahead of Solder, I forgot about the concussion risk.  But you really dont have Jones over McCourty?  I think Jones plays the more important position, he is more likely to take over a game and while McCourty will be 28 in the first year of his next deal, Jones will be 26  Now they are staggered a year so it may seem like they are unrelated but you still have to budget for both.
     
    On Revis, I think we are on the same page.  He’s going to be 30 next year and based on the first 2 games I dont know if he can be a lock-down guy on speedy receivers at this point.  Wallace certainly held his own against him even with some drops and Wallace really isnt that great.  Then Bill put him on Jennings instead of Patterson.  Its tough to justify giving him highest corner in the league money when he is 30+ and the scope of his lock-down work seems to be shrinking.
     
    Regarding the guys you mention for 2016, I have to disagree on Mayo.  I think his contract probably needs to be addressed but unlike Mankins they have the leverage to work something out because those savings are so high and most importantly I think he is the glue that holds that LB core together, without him I think they really struggle over the long run.  I can see Amendola, Browner and Arrington being cut, and sadly I can see Wilfork being cut so there is ~$20M in savings and thats being conservative with the hits.  So now $65M in commitments on a $150-160 cap is really, really good even with just 24 guys on the books.

     
    I think the bolded is premature. I’ll be interested to see how Revis looks over the course of the season before determining what type of contract he merits.

  14. On Revis, I think we are on the same page.  He’s going to be 30 next year and based on the first 2 games I dont know if he can be a lock-down guy on speedy receivers at this point.  Wallace certainly held his own against him even with some drops and Wallace really isnt that great.  Then Bill put him on Jennings instead of Patterson.  Its tough to justify giving him highest corner in the league money when he is 30+ and the scope of his lock-down work seems to be shrinking.

    They put him on Jennings instead of Patterson because, at this point in their careers, Jennings is a better receiver than Patterson. Patterson’s a great run-after-catch talent and a dynamic athlete but he’s really a gadget player right now.
     

    Priority to re-sign long-term:
     
    1.  Revis – total game-changer
    2.  Jones – on the cusp of greatness
    3.  McCourty – already a top S, but that position isn’t quite as important as the other two
    4.  Solder – though I’m now curious about his health and performance this year
     
    My two cents (which is probably all that this is worth….).

    It’s tough to make a list like this. Who’s the best player relative to his position? I’d probably go Revis, McCourty, Solder, Jones. Whose position has the most impact? I’d probably go Jones, Solder, Revis, McCourty (though I think all four are closer than most think). Who’s going to sign the most reasonable contract? Probably McCourty, Solder, Jones, Revis. Who’s the most difficult to replace? Probably Revis, Jones, Solder, McCourty.
     
    I do think true free safety ability is rare. The Pats could get by with a Harmon / Chung backfield, but they’d have to do more two-safety shells because neither of them has McCourty’s range. That takes a safety out of the box, weakening the run defense and / or preventing that second safety from being used as a robber, a blitzer, or a man-coverage option underneath. The shape of the defense is different with a guy like McCourty back there.

  15.  
    There’s a pretty good case that McCourty is as good as Thomas right now. I think his time at CB has clouded our perceptions of him; as a safety he is either #1 or #2 and the third guy is a fair way down from that level.

    I think Thomas is clearly better, but that’s far from a slight at McCourty.

  16.  
    I think the bolded is premature. I’ll be interested to see how Revis looks over the course of the season before determining what type of contract he merits.

     
    Well, on keeping up with speedsters, how many corners can really do that into their 30s?
     
    As far as a contract goes it seems as though Revis’s approach is to take top of the market deals with little guarantees and he is fine going year to year with them.  I forget exactly how his Jets deal was structured, but I know his Tampa deal was virtually all base salary.  Then he basically took the same deal here.  Unless he really drops off I cant see him signing for less than $12M a season and/or if he demonstrates that his skills are diminishing.  If they are then his value is really difficult to determine because I think corners can drop off in effectiveness pretty quick in which case its really difficult to figure out what you might want to commit to him.

  17. I do think true free safety ability is rare. The Pats could get by with a Harmon / Chung backfield, but they’d have to do more two-safety shells because neither of them has McCourty’s range. That takes a safety out of the box, weakening the run defense and / or preventing that second safety from being used as a robber, a blitzer, or a man-coverage option underneath. The shape of the defense is different with a guy like McCourty back there.

     

    Yes, and I thought the article to start this thread did a great job illustrating that.  He doesnt change the game like Revis in his prime, but he doesnt allow the Pats to run a scheme that not a lot of other players would allow them to run.
     
    One possible example: I quickly looked at the all-22 this morning, so don’t take this as gospel because I just picked out a few plays, but it looked like the Pats were in some two safety shells on their first drive against Minnesota and then went to more single high looks with a safety (Chung on the plays I watched) acting as an extra defender against shallow crossing routes and backs leaking out the backfield.

  18. They put him on Jennings instead of Patterson because, at this point in their careers, Jennings is a better receiver than Patterson. Patterson’s a great run-after-catch talent and a dynamic athlete but he’s really a gadget player right now.

     
    You’re right, I think I got caught up in all the pre-game Patterson hype.  I didnt realize his high in career touches is 8 and with him being more of a ‘game breaking play’ type of guy its probably best to bracket / double cover him to stop his big plays which becomes easier to do if Revis can handle Jennings 1 on 1.  That boils it down to the Miami game and Wallace and that could have just been one subpar game for Revis.

  19. One possible example: I quickly looked at the all-22 this morning, so don’t take this as gospel because I just picked out a few plays, but it looked like the Pats were in some two safety shells on their first drive against Minnesota and then went to more single high looks with a safety (Chung on the plays I watched) acting as an extra defender against shallow crossing routes and backs leaking out the backfield.

     
    IIRC this was probably after Cassell hit on those shallow crosses you mentioned.  My guess is that they wanted to have the 2 safeties deep to contain Patterson, but that was leaving the middle of the field open which they took advantage of so then they tried to have the safeties address that.  So in this particular case I’m not sure how much of that was because of McCourty’s ability because it really seemed more reactionary to me.

  20. Just an observation, its really hard to evaluate skill level in the NFL.  Say in this instance your point that McCourty’s ability to handle the 1 safety coverage is very valid, but how much of that last Sunday was because Cassel really cant throw a good deep ball?  Whereas in his prime, I believe Ed Reed could basically handle the single safety coverage virtually all of the time.  I think it was the NFL Football Life with Bill where he and Brady were sitting down in his office talking about Reed and Bill said ‘they can just put Reed back there because he can cover both sides of the field himself better than 2 safeties can’.  Bill isnt really overly complimentary towards a player so this really blew me away.

  21. FWIW, BB has said similar things about McCourty as he has said about Ed Reed. I think that’s McCourty ceiling over the next two-three seasons – prime Ed Reed.
     
    Remember, he never really played safety until the move was forced (as SN wrote about) in 2012. He’s still learning the position and he’s already in the conversation for best player at the position in the league.

  22.  
    There’s a pretty good case that McCourty is as good as Thomas right now. I think his time at CB has clouded our perceptions of him; as a safety he is either #1 or #2 and the third guy is a fair way down from that level.

    Just nitpicking but it seems to me like Eric Weddle is up there too. Either way- top three in the league; I’m ok with paying the man.

  23. FWIW, BB has said similar things about McCourty as he has said about Ed Reed. I think that’s McCourty ceiling over the next two-three seasons – prime Ed Reed.
     
    Remember, he never really played safety until the move was forced (as SN wrote about) in 2012. He’s still learning the position and he’s already in the conversation for best player at the position in the league.

     
    Reed is a bit of a stretch IMO.  I forget what it was but I know he was hurt in 2005, but in 02-04 and 06-08 he had 42 picks in 96 games and he returned 5 of those 46 for TDs   That prime stretch was one of the best stretches I can really remember from a FS ever in terms of both coverage of the field and turnovers.  This isnt a knock on McCourty, but more of a compliment of what Reed was because I just cant see McCourty having that type of performance for the next 3 years.

  24.  
    Reed is a bit of a stretch IMO.  I forget what it was but I know he was hurt in 2005, but in 02-04 and 06-08 he had 42 picks in 96 games and he returned 5 of those 46 for TDs   That prime stretch was one of the best stretches I can really remember from a FS ever in terms of both coverage of the field and turnovers.  This isnt a knock on McCourty, but more of a compliment of what Reed was because I just cant see McCourty having that type of performance for the next 3 years.

     
    Reed is a stretch but that INT on Sunday was absolutely Reedesque. Not many players can cover ground that quickly and make an INT like with with the type of return he had. Absolutely was impressive.

  25. That one was absolutely.  With Reed he had like 3 or 4 of those a season where his combination of instincts, athleticism and ball skills allowed him to make the pick that 99% of the safeties in the league just couldnt make.  Repeating that with that frequency is what made Reed stand out.

  26. Sure. And I think that if he’s this good now, having not spent his “whole life” at the position like Reed, then there is room to improve. And he already was the #1 safety by PFF numbers last year (sorry Earl Thomas lovers). 
     
    I think we’re watching a guy who might be turning into Ed Reed v2.0 – that’s a big deal. BB’s comments about McCourty’s intelligence and work ethic inform my opinion here. 

  27. Well, why not? PFF says he was the best FS in the NFL last season. The eye test says he’s excellent. The pass defense numbers have drastically improved with him back there. BB says he reminds BB of Reed.
     
    What more do you need to get really high on DMC? 😉

  28. Well, why not? PFF says he was the best FS in the NFL last season. The eye test says he’s excellent. The pass defense numbers have drastically improved with him back there. BB says he reminds BB of Reed.
     
    What more do you need to get really high on DMC? 😉

     
    For me, it is making big plays – that would take him to the elite level. But that’s just my personal eye test. The pick on Sunday was definitely an example of that. But, overall, DMC hasn’t made a ton of those types of plays as a safety.
     
    I think DMC is a good, maybe very good safety. I view him similar to Mayo: glue guys at their respective positions who clean a lot of things up and cover up a lot of problems and mistakes made by other guys, but who aren’t necessarily “playmakers”, and as such I don’t think they are worth being paid at the very top of their position.

  29. Why don’t I think DMC will be a first ballot Hall of Famer?  Call it a hunch I guess.

     
    Well, shift those goalposts a little bit more whydontcha? 😉
     
    I think his ceiling could be Reed 2.0 for the next 2-3 seasons. I never once said he’s a first ballot HOF or that he’s “as good as Ed Reed”. He is, however, the closest thing TO prime-Ed Reed right now in the NFL. 
     
    Again, I think we (Pats fans) judge him more harshly because of the struggles at CB. And that’s definitely part of his resume (and his future contract). But in terms of where he is, right now, he’s the either the best “Centerfielder” in football or the second-best. And that’s pretty damn good. Even if he’s not going to the Hall. 

  30. Not real sure how Im shifting goalposts, in his prime Ed Reed is certainly a first ballot Hall of Famer and I don’t think McCourty has that ceiling.  I do think he’s a great safety who should be at the very top of the extension list even if he’s clearly not Ed Reed for the reasons others have mentioned.

  31. Ed Reed is a first ballot HOF player because his prime was about ten seasons long. He’s an aberration, an outlier, a true one-of-a-kind guy. 
     
    I think McCourty might play near that level for 2-3 seasons. Which does not get you to the HOF. I never meant to imply McCourty was a potential HOF player – only that his ceiling over the next couple seasons might be “Reed-esque”. 
     
    So I think we’re saying the same thing – McCourty is not Reed, McCourty is excellent, McCourty should be a priority to extend, Ed Reed was a freak of nature. 

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