Tom Brady isn't the only important free agent the New England Patriots have to consider re-signing this offseason.
The strength of the Patriots in 2019 was their defense, and several valuable members of that unit have expiring contracts. Among that group are linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, as well as safety Devin McCourty.
LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.
Here are the latest updates on those three Patriots free agents with a few weeks to go before the market opens.
McCourty is the fifth-longest tenured Patriots player behind Brady, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, wide receiver Julian Edelman and special teams ace Matthew Slater. He's been one of the team's best players and leaders since he was selected in the first round of the 2010 draft. McCourty's five-year, $47.5 million contract is about to expire, and even though he's 32 years old, his talent is still impressive.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported Thursday "the understanding is the Patriots want the veteran safety back."
McCourty has not missed a game since the 2014 season. He tallied 58 total tackles, two forced fumbles (one recovery) and seven passes defensed last season. His five interceptions were tied for the second-most in the league. The Patriots secondary ranked among the league's best in the 2019 campaign and held opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 56.5 completion percentage. McCourty played an important role in that success, and the Pats would be wise to bring him back.
Kyle Van Noy
The Patriots acquiring Kyle Van Noy and a seventh-round draft pick from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a sixth-round pick in October of 2016 turned out to be one of their best trades in recent memory. Van Noy has been a fixture of New England's linebacker group since his arrival, and he's helped the team win two Super Bowl titles over that span.
USA TODAY Sports' Henry McKenna reported Thursday that Van Noy's camp and the Patriots aren't scheduled to meet this week.
Van Noy tallied 56 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles (two recoveries), three passes defensed and a touchdown last season. He's also been pretty durable with zero games missed due to injury since 2017.
If Van Noy hits the open market, he'll be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Collins returned to the Patriots last season after a disappointing two-year run with the Cleveland Browns, and the veteran linebacker re-established himself as a top-tier player in Bill Belichick's defense.
The Boston Globe's Jim McBride tweeted Thursday that Collins "is expected to have many suitors." This isn't surprising given how well Collins played in 2019.
Collins led the Patriots defense in total tackles (81) and sacks (seven) last season, while also tallying three forced fumbles (one recovery), seven passes defensed, one touchdown and a career-high three interceptions.