BOSTON (CBS) — Devin McCourty thought he would have to leave New England this offseason to find a new challenge. Instead, the challenge he was looking for has found him at 1 Patriot Place.
In a post for The Players Tribune, the Patriots safety detailed his decision to return to New England this offseason. McCourty gave serious thought to leaving the only franchise he’s ever played for, but the Patriots picking up his brother Jason’s option for the 2020 season started to sway things back toward New England.
For McCourty, it’s always about family. And having his brother — and in turn, most of his extended family — right across the street from him would have made leaving New England a lot tougher.
And with all of the free agent turnover up and down the New England roster, next season will be just the fresh challenge that McCourty was seeking this offseason.
“Let’s be honest: We’ve had it pretty good during my 10 years in New England. We’ve had Bill. We’ve had Tom. We’ve had a pretty consistent roster without a lot of turnover. That’s why this off-season feels so crazy. You see guys like Kyle, Nate, Jamie, Duron and others move on, and it definitely feels different. Especially with Tom leaving,” McCourty wrote.
McCourty said he found out about Brady’s departure for Tampa Bay like everyone else: On twitter. But he had an inkling that change was coming when Brady didn’t have a new deal ahead of free agency.
“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,” wrote McCourty. “But honestly, I’m happy for him. He’s 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,” he added.
McCourty, a nine-time team captain during his career in New England, is now eager to step up to help fill the leadership void led by the departure of Brady and the slew of players on the defensive end.
“But what people don’t understand about New England is that it’s not just about winning. It’s about everything else, too. It’s about the work. It’s about being better men. I think that every guy who has come through New England would say that he gained a lot of knowledge and experience that made him a better football player. But they also learned what it means to be a better teammate, a better husband and a better father. I think cultivating that kind of atmosphere is something we take a lot of pride in here,” he said.
Borrowing an essential play from the Patriot Way playbook, McCourty then took aim at all the New England detractors. The Patriots aren’t going to let the haters get to them, but they’re certainly going to feed off everyone counting them out in 2020.
“People are going to say that because Tom’s gone, the dynasty is over. They’re already burying us, far as I can tell. And that’s fine. Let ’em,” McCourty continued. “We’ve never listened to the noise, and we’re not about to start now. But the task is definitely taller this coming year than it has been in years past. There’s more work to do. And it’s not gonna be so easy this time around.”
But really, nothing has ever been easy, and McCourty is ready to step up to this new challenge ahead of him and the Patriots.
“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,” he wrote. “That’s what I’m most excited about moving forward.”