Patriots

Devin McCourty opens up about Tom Brady's exit, why he almost left Patriots too

Devin McCourty opens up about Tom Brady's exit, why he almost left Patriots too

Rob Ninkovich warned of a mass exodus in New England if Tom Brady left the Patriots in free agency.

That exodus nearly included Devin McCourty, according to the veteran safety himself.

In an article Tuesday for The Players' Tribune, McCourty admitted he "honestly thought it was time" for him to leave New England as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Going into free agency, I was thinking that at this stage in my career, I was ready for a change. I mean, I love New England. But after 10 years and winning three Super Bowls, something inside was telling me that I was ready for a new challenge. And I thought I might have to go elsewhere to find it.

That's a similar mindset to that of Tom Brady, who embarked on his own new challenge last Friday by signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons in New England.

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McCourty admitted he sensed Brady's exit was coming.

"I found out about Tom leaving the same way y’all did. On Twitter," McCourty wrote. "But I kind of knew when we got closer to free agency and he didn’t have a deal done that he wasn’t coming back.

"It’s still a little surreal because … it’s TOM, you know? He’s been here 20 years. He’s won six rings. He’s the greatest to ever do it. So it definitely won’t be the same now that he’s gone."

McCourty insisted he's "happy" for his longtime teammate, who has "earned the right to finish his career wherever he wants and chase whatever he feels like he needs to chase."

"I’m just glad he’s doing it in the NFC," McCourty added.

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So, what convinced McCourty to sign a two-year contract extension with the Patriots on March 15? You guessed it: His twin brother, Jason McCourty.

"And as much as I wanted a new challenge in my career, I also told myself from the jump that if there was an opportunity to play with my brother again, I would take it," McCourty wrote, admitting that the Patriots picking up Jason's option for 2020 convinced him to stick around. 

McCourty, a perennial captain and the longest-tenured member of New England's defense, arguably is the Patriots' leader with Brady out of town. After his brother signed, McCourty apparently convinced himself that succeeding without Brady would be its own "new challenge."

"People are going to say that because Tom’s gone, the dynasty is over," McCourty wrote. "They’re already burying us, far as I can tell. And that’s fine. Let ’em."

" ... I thought I had to leave New England to find what I was looking for. But it turns out that there is no greater challenge for me right now than leading this Patriots team into a new era and helping ensure that this next wave of players can continue our legacy and build on what we’ve already achieved as a franchise."

NFL players rip league's postgame jersey swap policy for next season

NFL players rip league's postgame jersey swap policy for next season

A tradition that became popular in international soccer has become a staple of NFL postgames in recent years, but it might not be allowed during the 2020 season.

Swapping jerseys with an opponent is now commonplace in North American professional sports leagues. We often see younger players swap jerseys with veterans who they grew up watching. Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a sought-after player for the postgame jersey swap. Multiple players from the Washington Redskins asked for his No. 12 jersey after a Week 5 game last season.

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Well, unfortunately for NFL players, swapping jerseys could be banned in the upcoming season as the league tries to implement social distancing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the NFL and NFLPA have not yet agreed on all of the medical protocols for gamedays. NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported the latest information Thursday:

Players were not pleased with this development, to say the least.

One of the most outspoken players was San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who tweeted the following message. It earned a retweet from Patriots running back James White, among other players.

Many other players were not afraid to share their displeasure with the jersey swap potentially being banned. Here are some of those reactions:

With opposition so strong and coming from several of the league's stars, it'll be interesting to see if the league eventually eases up and allows jersey swaps to happen as normal next season.

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

Cam Newton is wasting no time getting to know his New England Patriots wide receivers.

The new Patriots quarterback, who officially signed a one-year contract with the team Wednesday, linked up with wideout Mohamed Sanu last week for a few throwing sessions in Los Angeles.

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This Wednesday, it was N'Keal Harry's turn to catch passes from Newton, according to Boston.com, which obtained video of the duo's L.A. workout from EBA Sports.

The video shows Newton meeting Harry for the first time as a member of the Patriots before throwing the second-year receiver a handful of passes.

Newton and Harry worked out together for about two hours and were later joined by Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., per Boston.com.

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Harry has been working hard this offseason to improve his game after a disappointing rookie campaign. The Patriots' 2019 first-round pick appeared in just seven games last season due to a nagging ankle injury, catching 12 passes on 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

It's encouraging to see the 22-year-old on the practice field with Newton, who's aiming to bounce back from his own foot injury that limited him to two games in 2019.

Newton will have to beat out second-year QB Jarrett Stidham for the starting job, and it appears he's eager to get started while developing chemistry with his new pass-catchers.