Six players from the New England Patriots over the last few weeks have signed with teams in NFL free agency that emply former Pats coaches as a head coach.
And it turns out the Patriots almost lost another free agent in that fashion.
Devin McCourty had a chance to leave New England in free agency this offseason, and according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the veteran safety at one point thought he might be headed to one of the Patriots' rivals.
For the second time in his career, he was set to become a free agent. But once the Patriots picked up his brother Jason’s option, he had a pretty good idea he’d be staying put (something he detailed last week in the Players Tribune), after initially thinking he might be bound for the Giants or Dolphins.
McCourty ultimately re-signed with the Patriots earlier this month on a reported multi-year contract extension. He's spent his entire 10-year career with the Patriots and has played a pivotal role in three Super Bowl titles. This contract could keep McCourty in New England through retirement.
The list of Patriots player who've joined former coaches over the last month is a long one. Here's a quick recap (all were free agent signings unless otherwise noted):
Miami Dolphins (coached by former Patriots defensive coach Brian Flores)
C Ted Karras
LB Kyle Van Noy
LB Elandon Roberts
New York Giants (coached by former Pats special teams coordinator Joe Judge)
S Nate Ebner
Detroit Lions (coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia)
DT Danny Shelton
LB Jamie Collins
S Duron Harmon (trade)
Perhaps the largest benefit for McCourty in re-signing with the Patriots is he can play another season alongside his brother and veteran cornerback, Jason McCourty. They became the first set of twins to play in and win a Super Bowl when the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII during the 2018 season.
Bringing back McCourty made a lot of sense for the Patriots, too. He played quite well in 2019 and was among the Pro Bowl snubs. The Patriots defense ranked as one of the league's top units last season, and for that to remain the case in 2020, McCourty likely will need to give another excellent performance.