Earlier this offseason, McCourty made it clear that he intended to continue his playing career, with the Giants being mentioned as a potential suitor. Instead of heading back to New Jersey (where he played both college and high school football), he’s going to Miami. On the Dolphins, he’ll be reunited with head coach Brian Flores, who served as McCourty’s defensive coordinator during their lone season together in New England.
Besides the familiarity between the vet and the head coach, there could be another reason for the signing. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald wonders if the McCourty signing is “insurance against a Xavien Howard contract issue.” Howard is seeking a raise, and Salguero seems to imply that the cornerback could miss time due to the negotiations. Even if Howard is in the lineup, McCourty is still a savvy veteran who can be relied on by the coaching staff. The defensive back could also be an option at safety.
The Patriots had one of the NFL’s best cornerback contingents last season, and McCourty was one of the captains of the defense. However, he saw a reduced role in 2020, as the 33-year-old (34 in August) played on 65% of the Pats’ defensive snaps and started 11 games. Pro Football Focus placed him outside of the top 75 at his position — a significant drop from 2018 (No. 6) and 2019 (No. 18) rankings. The veteran ultimately finished the campaign having compiled 42 tackles and three passes defended.
McCourty accomplished his goals of playing alongside his brother, Devin McCourty, and winning a Super Bowl during his three-year stint in New England. The former sixth-round spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Titans before a one-year stint with the Browns in 2017.