The New England Patriots’ dynasty hit a crossroads last offseason, and their mass exodus of free agents, led by quarterback Tom Brady, signified a changing of the guard.
Nothing lasts forever, and the Patriots experienced this harsh reality regarding their two-decade run over the last two offseasons.
Given where their roster was at, New England had no other choice but to spend more in free agency this year than they ever have in their history.
When you couple the myriad of newcomers with how many locker room/culture pillars have departed, the remaining veterans are going to need an adjustment period.
One of those vets is Devin McCourty, and the 31-year-old safety made some eye-opening comments in regard to the current atmosphere surrounding the Patriots.
Devin McCourty was up front about the Patriots’ current transition period.
"“Obviously it’s different,” McCourty said. “I will say the different thing about this year, too, is guys like Chung and Jules; I’ve played with those guys for so long — obviously, J’s my twin brother and the last three years have been awesome — but it’s getting used to just that aspect of some of the guys that you don’t think twice about that you’re taking the field with.“So, it’s like almost every time you’re at practice or a game, you just get used to seeing those guys. I think it shows age, when you’re still playing football. Things obviously change in this league, but I would say all those guys, kind of grouping them together has created a different atmosphere.”"
We wouldn’t overreact to these comments, as McCourty is merely going through an adjustment period following the departure of longtime teammates. If we’re being honest, fans should commend the 12th-year pro for being this candid about it.
After all, both Julian Edelman and Patrick Chung, albeit for different reasons, announced their retirements this offseason. Joe Thuney and Jason McCourty, meanwhile, left as free agents.
Each veteran played a huge role in the Patriots winning at least one championship, so you can only imagine what’s running through McCourty’s mind as he prepares for his 12th season with the organization that drafted him in the first round back in 2010.
For any Patriots fans concerned that McCourty might struggle putting the team first, especially after the departure of his twin brother, well, don’t be. The two-time Pro Bowler is ready to lead and groom the team’s next generation of players.
"“I think that’s the fun part about being a leader, being on a team for a while: now I’m trying to bring all of them together with new guys, young guys, veteran guys and building a team,” he said. “I think that’s what I’m trying to do, to help the guys out as much as I can.”"
Though the Patriots are going through a transition period and have lost some true franchise cornerstones over the last few years, veterans like McCourty, Matthew Slater, David Andrews, Dont’a Hightower and even Cam Newton should be more than enough to help lead this largely new-look roster and have them ready to carry the leadership torch when the time comes for it to be passed on.