Tom Brady wasn’t the only Patriots’ starter who was facing an unknown future entering the 2020 offseason. Devin McCourty, the team’s first-round pick in the 2010 draft, was also slated to become a free agent. But unlike Brady, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McCourty decided to stay in New England, inking a two-year deal with the six-time Super Bowl champions.
Given his own free agency, McCourty said that he “didn’t think twice” about Brady’s situation. McCourty, who won three Super Bowls with Brady as his teammate, is also not terribly worried about how the Patriots will rebound following Brady’s decision to leave Foxborough.
“When he made a decision, to me it wasn’t like the end of the world,” McCourty recently told SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Grant Gordon of NFL.com. “He’s a free agent and when free agency hits, there’s always a chance a guy could go to another team. I’m happy for him. He played 20 years for one organization. The knowledge he’s passed down. How open he has always been with guys learning from him, asking him questions. Always so open. Great teammate. You become a free agent, that’s what our league is about. That’s what players before us have fought for. Be a free agent and choose. I was happy for him if he did what makes him happy.”
While McCourty is one of the remaining players from the Patriots’ recent dynasty, the team will undoubtedly look different in 2020. In free agency, the Patriots lost linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts, as well as defensive tackle Jamie Shelton and safety Nate Ebner. New England addressed those losses by signing former Buccaneers defensive tackle Beau Allen, former Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland, former Chargers safety Adrian Phillips and former Jaguars safety Cody Davis. They were also able to re-sign safety Devin McCourty and linebacker Shilique Calhoun.
New England further addressed its defense during the draft, selecting safety Kyle Dugger with the 37th overall pick. They spent their next two picks on edge rushers, selecting Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings with the 60th and 87th picks, respectively.
The Patriots, in free agency as well as during the draft, also added new pieces to their offense. They spent both of their third-round picks on tight ends, acquiring Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. The Patriots then spent three of their five Day 3 picks on the offensive line, selecting guard Michael Onwenu, tackle Justin Herron and center Dustin Woodard. In free agency, the Patriots signed former Cardinals receiver Damiere Byrd and former Packers fullback Danny Vitale. Byrd will help replace Phillip Dorsett (who signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks), while Vitale will look to replace James Develin, who retired in April.
While they didn’t draft a receiver, the Patriots did sign several undrafted rookie receivers in Will Hastings (who played with Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham at Auburn), Sean Riley, Isaiah Zuber, and Jeff Thomas. The team also signed running back J.J. Taylor, who, despite being just 5-foot-5 and 185 pounds, managed to rush for 3,263 yards during his four years at Arizona.
As far as their quarterback position is concerned, Belichick appears confident that Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick who attempted just four regular season passes as a rookie, can get the job done. Last month,, when New England went 11-5 with Matt Cassel under center for the majority of the season.
“Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills,” Belichick said, via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. “Cassel would be a good example. We geared everything toward what would be best for him, just like we always geared everything toward what was best for Tom to help our offense there. So I don’t really see that changing.”
Like his coach, McCourty is confident that Stidham is more than capable of leading the Patriots to success in 2020.
“I think he’s a young guy who’s eager to learn. That quarterback position is always a hard position,” McCourty said. “Right away, he worked extremely hard.
“I’m exciting for that quarterback room. I think they’re itching. You get an opportunity to go out there and compete, that’s what we all want. I think for us as players at other positions, we need to focus on what we have to do. Not fall into the trap of the media, like everybody worried about the quarterback room. We just control what we can control and the rest will take care of itself.”