Patriots stepped up their offer after McCourty said he was signing elsewhere

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

During the legal three day tampering period that precedes free agency, Devin McCourty was in talks with several teams. And at one point he even called Bill Belichick to thank him for his time with the Patriots and to tell him he was ready to sign with a different team.

This call prompted the Patriots to up their offer and get the deal done with McCourty. Something that is out of the ordinary when it comes to the Patriots free agency approach.

But McCourty isn't most free agents. His move to free safety a few seasons ago really settled the back end of the defense. And his speed, range, tackling and ability to play the deep ball perfectly made him hard to replace. Hence the Patriots aggressive approach to keeping him.

In keeping McCourty, the Patriots went against the public perception of them. You know, the one where they never pay their own players and that they dump them when they are done with them.

In reality, they just are smart in how they play the free agency game. Re-signing McCourty was smart. He is a known commodity to them and won't have any trouble fitting into the system. It surprised many when he wasn't franchised and was given the chance to hit the open market. Another smart move. Sure, Mccourty is still getting the $9.5 million per year, roughly what the franchise tag would have paid him. Except its on a long term deal now. Lowering the cap hits for the team and giving McCourty long term security.

So while the Patriots may not make splashy moves in free agency, they do make the smart ones. Because Super Bowls are won in January and February, not March.


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