The New England Patriots have been free agency’s biggest spenders thus far, putting a huge emphasis on renovating their pass-catching and defensive line arsenals.
While de facto GM Bill Belichick is evidently satisfied with how the secondary looks, it goes without saying that he shocked some fans when he signed defensive back Jalen Mills, who is adept at playing both the cornerback and safety positions, to a three-year deal.
The reason that move was viewed as such a surprise?
Because longtime starter and fan favorite Jason McCourty was still braving free agency at the time.
Fast forward a couple weeks later and McCourty remains unsigned. And no, his precarious situation has nothing to do with him considering retirement after 12 seasons in the NFL.
During a recent appearance on “Good Morning Football,” the 33-year-old made it clear that he wants to continue playing, going as far as to say that he wants to be somewhere he’s wanted. Given the context, it’s worth pondering if these comments were a shot at the Patriots.
Did Jason McCourty call out the Patriots with his latest free agency comments?
After reading the full quote, you’ll come to the realization that McCourty is simply itching to have somewhere to play football next season. The “somewhere I’m wanted” comment might be viewed as a slight to some fans, but the fact that he opened up on the kind role he would like to fulfill suggests he had zero ill intentions behind them.
"“I just want to be somewhere I’m wanted and an opportunity to compete and help the guys around me,” McCourty said. “As an older player now, I really look forward and love being able to mentor the younger guys, and be there to kind of help them grow, as well as going out there competing and trying to win games.”“So wherever that may be, I’m going to be excited. This will be Year 13, so each year you’re closer to the end. This could be it. I’m just excited to get somewhere and play football.”"
As evidenced by retaining the likes of running back James White, center David Andrews, and defensive line tandem Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise, the Patriots clearly haven’t wavered in their belief of how important continuity and familiarity is to a roster and culture.
That really makes you wonder why they haven’t re-signed McCourty, who’s been essential to the secondary and locker room over the last dozen years. Did the former sixth-round pick regress in coverage last season? No doubt, but you’d be hard-pressed to rattle off members of the defense who were consistent in 2020.
Perhaps the Patriots are just biding time to bring McCourty back at the minimum price point, but his comments didn’t suggest a reunion was imminent. Whatever ends up happening, fans shouldn’t fault him if he’s even the slightest bit defensive about not being included in their spending spree.