Last offseason, Jason and Devin McCourty had their NFL futures hanging in the balance as both Patriots defensive backs mulled retirement. That thought of possibly leaving the game of football following the 2019 season was short-lived, however, as they both elected to return for 2020. While Devin, who is signed through the 2021 season, has previously noted that he'll be back next season, there wasn't a clear answer as it related to Jason. Until now.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Jason is planning to play in 2021. The corner has spent the previous three seasons in New England and has proven to be a valuable piece in the secondary after playing the first nine years of his NFL career in Tennessee (2009-2016) and Cleveland (2017). This is a rather noteworthy development from McCourty, who did leave the possibility of retiring open when speaking to reporters following New England's Week 16 loss to the Bills this past season.
"That's something I think that I'll evaluate in the offseason," McCourty said at the time, via NESN.com. "For me, this is Year 12, so when you get this high up in numbers, I think each year, you have to evaluate. Obviously, I'll be a free agent. You have to evaluate situations, family and the whole nine. So I think a little bit deeper into the offseason is when I'll probably have to make that decision and talk to my wife and decide what's next for us in our lives."
While McCourty -- who has been working out at Gillette Stadium in recent weeks -- is gearing up to play next season, where he'll actually be suiting up still remains a bit of a mystery. As he noted in that quote above, the 33-year-old corner is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, which does leave his future in New England in some doubt. That said, the Patriots have plenty of cap space to retain the likes of McCourty, who likely won't require anything close to top dollar given his age. There likely is also some motivation from McCourty's camp to stay in Foxborough and continue playing alongside his brother.
Last season, McCourty saw a bit of an expanded role within New England's secondary as he played both corner and safety throughout the year. He started in 11 of his 16 games played and defended three passes to go along with 42 tackles. Quarterbacks did find success when targeting McCourty, who had opposing signal-callers totaling a 131.4 passer rating against him with five touchdowns allowed. While those numbers are not much to write home about, McCourty will likely be asked to do less if he were to come back to the Patriots in 2021 thanks to safety Patrick Chung returning after opting out of last year due to COVID-19.
The veteran corner is also looked at as one of the key leaders for Bill Belichick's team after being named a captain for 2020, which could give the organization even more motivation to keep him around.