Patriots

Report: Devin McCourty returned to Patriots after initial thoughts about joining these teams

Report: Devin McCourty returned to Patriots after initial thoughts about joining these teams

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.

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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.

Click for our latest 2020 Patriots mock draft roundup

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The Las Vegas Raiders with Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly were among the teams with some level of interest in signing Tom Brady in NFL free agency, but the Silver and Black ultimately decided to stick with Derek Carr as its starting quarterback.

Carr shouldn't be too comfortable, though.

Despite making the most of a tough situation in 2019 during which the Raiders lacked skill and depth at many offensive positions, Carr's job doesn't appear to be safe. For example, the Raiders signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota in free agency, and he has several seasons of starting experience.

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NBC Sports Bay Area's Raiders insider Scott Bair recently spoke to our Patriots insider Phil Perry, and one of the topics centered around Carr's future and if he can once again perform at the level of a top-tier quarterback.

"Actions speak louder than words, and (head coach) Jon Gruden and (general manager) Mike Mayock at the combine and all these different places, they say the right things -- Derek Carr is their guy," Bair said. "But then, they're constantly flirting with Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, and they sign Marcus Mariota to a deal that could evolve into paying him starter money should he take over that job. Those actions don't say (Carr is their guy).

"I've seen every professional snap that Derek Carr has ever taken. I've seen every practice rep that I've been allowed to see, and I may be in the minority, but this is a guy I believe can be an upper-tier NFL quarterback. He can make every throw, and if you go back to 2016 when he had a loaded offensive line and lots of good skill players, he finished third in MVP voting despite the fact he broke his leg in Week 16. I know that's in there. Now, Raiders fans don't believe me, the national media doesn't believe me, but I think the stage is set for him to have a career year and find that 2016 form yet again, that most fans think is lost forever."

One defense Carr will go up against in 2020 is the New England Patriots.

The Raiders are scheduled to visit Gillette Stadium on Sept. 27 for a Week 3 matchup, and they currently are underdogs by almost a touchdown, according to oddsmakers. Bair thinks the matchup is closer than the betting lines would suggest.

"I would definitely hammer the Raiders pretty hard right there," Bair said. "I just think they're going to have a lot of explosive firepower, and when there's uncertainty at quarterback, (the more explosive team) seems to be a safer bet. Maybe you know better than I do exactly how (the Patriots') quarterback situation is shaping up, but if there are major questions marks there, I would go with the more established quarterback, the more established offense. Again, (the Raiders) are going to be able to score in bunches, and I think they're going to be pretty excited to come to Foxboro and finally get a win, even if Brady isn't there."

The Raiders and Patriots both face a bit of uncertainty at quarterback entering the 2020 season, and whichever coach is able to surround his young QB with the best system and the right talent will put his team in a strong position to reach the playoffs. The Patriots haven't missed the postseason since 2008, while the Raiders have made only one appearance since 2002.

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

Rob Ninkovich sounded drunkovich when he spoke of Brian Hoyer starting Week 1 for the Patriots.

Get that man a breathalyzer. Stat.

And if Nink turns out to be right, get Bill Belichick one too. 

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I have said this before — and I will say it again: I will not watch one down of Brian Hoyer under center for the Patriots.

And you shouldn’t either!

Don’t be a sucker. Really, you’re going to waste your time watching a guy who has started 25 games in 11 seasons in the NFL?

He may be a nice guy, good at carrying a clipboard and ridding Tom Brady of his insecurities, but he is a lousy quarterback. Patriot fans deserve better.

Going from Tom Brady to Brian Hoyer is cold turkey to the extreme. I can feel the cotton mouth, cold sweats and shakes coming on already. 

Does Bill Belichick expect you to accept Brian Hoyer as a starter? If he does, it should piss you off. 

If Hoyer does get the call you can still watch some of the game. I plan to. When the Patriots are on offense I will switch to the other game or Red Zone, and when I see on my phone that the Pats are back on defense, I will switch back over and watch Gilmore, Hightower and the McCourtys do their thing. 

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.