Devin McCourty Should Stay At Free Safety For New England Patriots In 2015


With the massive personnel turnover at the New England Patriots’ cornerback position this offseason, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if Devin McCourty should return to corner in 2015. Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald pondered that thought this morning. However, because of his stardom at free safety and track record as a corner, McCourty must remain in the back end of the secondary.

First off, one must remember how close the Patriots were to losing McCourty in free agency. The Jacksonville Jaguars put forth a juicy deal for D-Mac in March, and it took a last-ditch effort from Bill Belichick to retain McCourty.

Note that the Patriots re-signed McCourty because of his prowess as a free safety, not corner. Sure, his versatility is useful, but McCourty wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near his $47 million deal as a free agent cornerback.

McCourty is the only member of the Patriots secondary that instills comfort into Patriots’ fans right now. Sure, we’re eager to see how Malcolm Butler responds after receiving hero status in Super Bowl XLIX, but it is McCourty who we can confidently point to and say that he is currently the most dependable defensive back on the roster.

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If McCourty slid down to corner, the Patriots would be pretty vulnerable in the back end. Neither Tavon Wilson or Duron Harmon are ready to step into the starting free safety role, and the coverage deficiencies of strong safety Pat Chung would be that much more pronounced without McCourty next to him.

In addition, if promising second-round selection Jordan Richards is going to make an impact at strong safety this season, he will need the mentoring of McCourty at free safety.

If McCourty were a true No. 1 corner, then it would make perfect sense for him to move there in 2015. But the reality is that McCourty is more of a No. 2 corner, and the Patriots already have a bunch of those guys on the cornerback depth chart right now.

To cash-in on the fat paycheck they handed McCourty his offseason, the Patriots must put D-Mac in a position that best suits his strengths. Cornerback, as we saw earlier in McCourty’s career, is not that place. Free safety, as we have seen in the past three years, is that place.