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Devin McCourty would be OK with “player-friendly” franchise tag

Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski

New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty, left, uses a television microphone to ask a question of tight end Rob Gronkowski, center, during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Chandler, Ariz. The Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks in NFL football Super Bowl XLIX Sunday, Feb. 1, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


No decent free agent really wants the franchise tag. But Patriots safety Devin McCourty also knows it could be a lot worse.

McCourty might command more security and long-term money on the open market, but knows that making around $9 million next year for the defending Super Bowl champions isn’t a bad deal either.

I’ve kind of broken it down as worst-case scenario would be that I get franchised and come back to play for another year here,” McCourty said, via Phil Perry of “To me that’s no reason to stress. I love it here. The franchise tag is player-friendly now. It’s a good number. If I hit free agency, I hope there’s some teams that want me to play there. Hopefully that goes over well. It’s still exciting.”

The Patriots have until March 2 to tag McCourty if they choose, though a long-term deal would help both sides in terms of cash and cap hit. But if they don’t, he’d hit the market at the right time, able to capitalize on his team’s success. And given New England’s history of letting certain guys walk, McCourty knows it’s not a given he’s staying.

“I’ve thought about all different scenarios whether I’m here or whether I’m somewhere else,” he said. “At this point I don’t have a contract. It could happen that I could be playing somewhere else. I think it would be crazy not to think that that could be reality. . . .

“I really don’t know. I could say anything right now, but if I’m being honest with you I’d have to say I don’t know. It could go either way, I think.”

However, he’d also be tough for the Patriots to replace. The two-time All-Pro safety is the leader in their secondary, and his background as a cornerback allows them to use him in places other teams can’t put safeties in.

So while more attention’s being paid to the Darrelle Revis situation, keeping McCourty around is also important.