While most of the offseason attention is being paid to the looming free-agent status of cornerback J.C. Jackson, he's not the only key piece of the New England Patriots secondary that is slated to hit the open market. Veteran safety Devin McCourty is also on the doorstep of unrestricted free agency. Over the last few seasons, however, McCourty's future in the game has been somewhat up in the air as the 34-year-old has contemplated retirement. Each time, the three-time Super Bowl champion has decided to continue playing and it appears he's reached a similar decision this offseason.
NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran reports that McCourty told him he is currently training with the intent of playing in 2022. This comes after McCourty noted on his "Double Coverage" Podcast that he'd be taking about a month or two to decide if he wanted to keep his NFL career rolling.
"I still feel great," McCourty said back in January, as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. "Going over all of the tests and all the things that we do during the season with our sports performance guy Johan, I haven't had a dropoff in athletic ability and the physical traits to play the game. So it all really comes down to mentally and being ready and being able to tap back in and go through a full season. I think those are the things you have to think about."
With McCourty telling Curran that he is working towards playing in 2022, any questions about retirement seem to be answered. The next question, of course, turns to where McCourty will be playing next season. Again, he'll be an unrestricted free agent, so he'll be able to ink a deal with whatever teams he likes.
He's spent his entire 12-year NFL career as a member of the Patriots and has grown into one of the team's main leaders over that stretch. Given that New England has seen a drain in the secondary over the last few years (Patrick Chung, Stephon Gilmore, and possibly J.C. Jackson), retaining the likes of McCourty may be a wise move from the team standpoint.
McCourty is wrapping up a two-year, $23 million contract extension he signed with the Patriots back in 2020 and has continued to play at a high level. Last season, he totaled 60 tackles and had 10 pass breakups to go along with three interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks also had just a 34.6 completion percentage when targeting McCourty.