ATLANTA, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 03: Brandin Cooks #12 of the Los Angeles Rams misses a pass under pressure from Jason McCourty #30 of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

One of the biggest heroes from Super Bowl LIII is set to cash in on the open market. One year after going 0-16 with the Cleveland Browns, cornerback Jason McCourty played a pivotal role on the 2018 Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. McCourty is entering his age-32 season but can still play at a high level and should earn a decent payday.

2019 NFL Free Agency Master List

McCourty finished his season on the highest note possible. Earning the start in Super Bowl LIII, McCourty made arguably the play of the game when he came out of nowhere to break up a wide-open touchdown to Brandin Cooks. He was more than a one-play wonder, as the first-year Patriot ended the night as the highest-graded defender, per Pro Football Focus.

McCourty made the most of his one year in New England, as the 31-year old cornerback put together a solid season opposite Stephon Gilmore. Playing in all 16 games, McCourty recorded 70 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and 10 pass breakups. His play was so impressive that Pro Football Focus named him the sixth-best cornerback on the season. While the eye test doesn’t back up that impressive ranking, there’s no denying McCourty was a strong starter in one of the better defenses in the league.

McCourty first entered the league back as the Tennessee Titans sixth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. While never a superstar, McCourty has always been a reliable, dependable starter throughout his time in the league. He’s played in 12 or more games in all but one season and is always a reliable presence. He probably won’t earn a big paycheck, but he should make a decent salary in 2019.

Possible Fits

The New England Patriots would love to bring McCourty back for another go. By all accounts, McCourty was a fantastic locker room presence and backed it up with solid on-field play. Additionally, New England can offer him something no other team can – playing time with twin brother Devin McCourty. McCourty will earn a solid salary, but his paycheck shouldn’t affect New England from going out and doing whatever they want to do in free agency.

The one thing stopping this signing from being imminent is the presence of undrafted free agent J.C. Jackson. Jackson took some playing time away from McCourty later in the season and actually had the lowest passer rating when targeted in the league. With Gilmore earning First-Team All-Pro honors, McCourty might not have a chance to start for New England in 2019. Depending on how much McCourty desired guaranteed playing time, he could test his luck in the open market.

Should McCourty test free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs would make a fantastic suitor. Kansas City has one of the most high-powered offenses in the league to complement a ferocious pass rush. The only they’re missing is a secondary. With $25.5 million in available cap space and still needing to sign Dee Ford, the Chiefs cannot afford to go out and get a top-tier cornerback in free agency. Signing McCourty would be a great value move for a team who just missed on a trip to the Super Bowl in 2018.

Last Word on Jason McCourty

Jason McCourty was everything the New England Patriots could have hoped for in 2018. Playing in all 16 games, McCourty was one of the better cornerbacks in the league and did everything asked of him when paired with Stephon Gilmore. While J.C. Jackson cut into his playing time later in the season, McCourty saved his best plays for Super Bowl LIII. It’s not hyperbole to say that Jason McCourty could have been the difference between victory and defeat.

The New England Patriots would love to have McCourty back, and the interest should be mutual. McCourty was a perfect fit for New England’s culture, fit the scheme well, and has the opportunity to play alongside his twin brother. However, the emergence of J.C. Jackson could make McCourty test free agency in search of a starting job.

If he does this, the Kansas City Chiefs should go out and sign McCourty. Kansas City needs cornerbacks and doesn’t have the cap space to make a move for a top-tier player in free agency. McCourty isn’t a lockdown corner by any means, but he’s more than capable of improving the Chiefs’ secondary. Kansas City just missed the Super Bowl in 2018 and adding a player like McCourty might be enough to push Kansas City over the top in 2019.

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