Following Monday’s announcement that he had not received the franchise tag, Patriots safety Devin McCourty acknowledged that there’s the possibility he “could be playing in a different place” in 2015.

In an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson, McCourty reflected on the fact that it was kicker Stephen Gostkowski who was tagged instead of him, and said that there was no real information from the franchise who was going to be tagged until the announcement was made Monday afternoon prior to the 4 p.m. deadline.

“There was no real information from them on if it was going to be me or (Stephen Gostkowski),” he said. “So I was kind of going off of what everybody else was going off, with what people were reporting as far as sources and all that.

“I guess it’s more realistic now that [there’s] a chance that I might not be back there,” McCourty added. “Or there’s still a chance that I will, but I guess [there’s] more of a chance now with the franchise tag going to Steve that I could be playing in a different place. Still, keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy the process.”

McCourty said the idea of potentially moving on would be tough, but he understands the nature of the business.

“It would definitely be bittersweet,” he said. “You stay somewhere for five years and really make a name for yourself in that place. I’ve gotten a lot of help. I know a lot of people in the area, built great relationships, so it will definitely be bittersweet. But my mom always reminds me that comes with the territory. That’s part of being in the NFL, that change is always coming.

“To me it kind of is what it is. I know from being there for five years, I’ve seen a bunch of moves where a bunch of people kind of didn’t know what they were doing and somehow it always works out. So, it’s just now, I am on the other side. I’m not surprised really. I know [the Patriots] always know what they’re doing, as far as the team, and what they want to do. So, just seeing what’s next for me.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Devin McCourty could be in line for a handsome payday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty could be in line for a handsome payday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There are two ways to look at Monday’s decision not to hit safety Devin McCourty with the franchise tag.

If you are a glass-is-half-full type, the Patriots’ decision not to franchise McCourty was made because the two sides are closing in on a long-term deal that would keep him in New England for the foreseeable future, and allow the Rutgers product to grow old in a Patriots uniform.

If you’re more of a glass-is-half-empty type, this is the first chapter of a story that ends with McCourty at a press conference posing next to Chuck Pagano, John Harbaugh, Gary Kubiak or a coach for any of New England’s other AFC rivals while talking about “new challenges” and “new beginnings.” (That doesn’t even begin to take onto account the possibility of him playing alongside his brother Jason in Tennessee, or any of the other NFC teams that might be flush with cash once the free-agency buffet opens next week.)

Now, instead of slapping the $9.6 tag on him for the 2015 season, the Patriots are gambling with the idea that they can retain McCourty for the long term. The defensive back has grown up in the New England system, and come of age in an age of unprecedented success with the Patriots: He’s been to four straight AFC title games, made two Super Bowl appearances, been twice named a second-team All-Pro (at two different positions) and won a Super Bowl ring, all before the age of 28. It’s hard to imagine him reaching the same sort of heights at another stop over the next five years.

But when you consider the market, he’s going to get paid like one of the best safeties in the league. In truth, he’s a rare talent: He’s not an All-World corner along the lines of a Darrelle Revis. But his knowledge of the system, leadership skills, ability to play alongside a multitude of different players while displaying an amazing positional flexibility (at corner and safety) make him extremely valuable to the New England system. And when you take into account the free agent market — as well as the apparent choices that could be available in this year’s draft at safety — it’s a considerable gamble, especially when you consider what some comparable defensive backs have made on the market over the course of the last few years.

— T.J. Ward: Signed a four-year, $22.5 million contract last March, a deal contains $13.5 million guaranteed.

Earl Thomas: Last April, he signed a five-year, $44.725 million contract with $27.725 million guaranteed, including a $9.5 million signing bonus.

— Eric Weddle: In 2011, the bearded defensive back signed a a five-year, $40 million contract with $19 million guaranteed and a $13 million signing bonus.

While McCourty might not be at the top of that food chain, he’s not too far removed, especially in this environment.

The Patriots have exclusive negotiating rights with McCourty until Saturday. That’s when the weird tampering window involving impending unrestricted free agents opens, which allows reps from around the league to get in touch with him and gauge what he might be interested in. While no deals can be consummated until Tuesday, expect there to be plenty of potential suitors lined up outside of McCourty’s door for several reasons, not the least of which could be simply driving up the price for New England.

Regardless of what happens, McCourty has now entered into a brave new world, one where he could command a sizable payday. As is the case with his fellow defensive back Darrelle Revis, where both sides decide to go from this point over the next week will provide some level of insight into just how the New England secondary will look in 2015 and beyond.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots made it official Monday afternoon, announcing they had placed the franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The team issued the following statement:

The Patriots made it official Monday afternoon, announcing they had placed the franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The team issued the following statement:

“Stephen has been extremely productive and a vital component to our success since joining our team in 2006. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal.”

Here’s a portion of the release, as issued by the franchise:

Gostkowski was named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season in 2014 and for the third time overall since joining the team as a fourth-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Memphis. He led the NFL in 2014 with 156 total points. Gostkowski also led the NFL in points in 2008, 2012 and 2013, becoming just the third player to lead the NFL in points in at least four seasons. He has connected on 86.8 percent of his regular-season field goal attempts since entering the NFL (243-of-280), the best field goal percentage in Patriots history.

Gostkowski became the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer in the win vs. Miami on Dec. 14 and now has 1,179 career points. He was 35-of-37 on field goals in 2014 for a 94.6 field goal percentage, the highest field goal percentage in a single season for the Patriots.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots have used their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

The franchise tag will pay Gostkowski $4.1 million in 2015, less than half of the $9.6 million it would cost to franchise safety Devin McCourty.

This is a big week for Darrelle Revis, as the Patriots have until March 9 to pick up his $20 million team option for 2015.

Stephen Gostkowski (3) converts a preseason 60 yard field goal at the end of the first half. (Getty Images)

Stephen Gostkowski (3) converts a preseason 60 yard field goal at the end of the first half. (Getty Images)

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots have used their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

The franchise tag will pay Gostkowski $4.1 million in 2015. The Patriots drafted Gostkowski in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL draft to replace Adam Vinatieri. In nine seasons in New England, Gostkowski has converted 243 of his 280 field goal attempts and has become one of the most dependable kickoff specialists in the league.

He enters 2015 only 20 field goals shy of Vinatieri’€™s franchise record.

The franchise tag is a designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The tag binds the player to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. Each team has access each year to only one franchise tag (of either the exclusive or non-exclusive forms) and one transition tag. As a result, each team may only designate one player each year as that team’s franchise player.

A franchise tag affords the retaining team the privilege of strategically retaining valuable free-agent players while seeking talent through the NFL draft or other acquisitions without exceeding the League’s salary cap. A team may also franchise tag a player with 2 or more years left on a contract.

The designated franchise player will have his one year salary guaranteed if he elects to play for the team that designated him with the franchise tag and if he does not negotiate a contract with another team.

Last season, Gostkowski connected on 35 of his 37 field goal attempts and posted a career-high 94.6 conversion percentage. He connected on his only attempt in the postseason, and is 20-for-22 lifetime in the playoffs.

In a Week 15 win over the Dolphins, Gostkowski, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, became the Patriots’€™ all-time leading scorer with 1,179 points, surpassing Vinatieri’€™s old mark in just his 134th game with the team.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

This is a big week for Darrelle Revis, as the Patriots have until March 9 to pick up his $20 million team option for 2015.

Appearing on ESPN Radio’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd, NFL insider Adam Schefter shed some light on what might happen with Revis. According to Schefter, the star cornerback will be hitting the market as he said he would be “surprised” if the Patriots picked up his $20 million option.

Darrelle Revis has a clause in his contract that says he can’t be [franchise] tagged again. There’s a $20 million option bonus payment that would cause a $25 million cap number,” Schefter told Cowherd. “The bottom line is it would surprise me if New England picked that up. The chances are — not the chances are — it’s going to happen, Darrelle Revis is going to hit the market. He will be another coveted free agent.”

Even if Revis hits the free agent market, he can still return to New England with a new contract. If that is the case, he would likely take less than what he might get from another team. Going into his 10th season, turning 30 years old next summer, and making as much money as he already has over his career, as well as winning a Super Bowl, it all comes down to what Revis ultimately wants.

“This all comes down to what Darrelle Revis wants to do,” Schefter said. “He’s got a Super Bowl ring. He’s career has been validated. He’s got one more big score left — big score in terms of big contract. Does he want to go take that big contract with a team like the New York Jets who are dying to make a run at Darrelle Revis, or the Buffalo Bills? Or, is he willing to take less to go back and play with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and be in the environment that he’s been in in New England. That is a call only he can make.

“At this point in his career he’s made a ton of money — a ton of money. All together with marketing, contracts, he’s probably made $100 million. So what do you want to do in your very last big deal? That’s the decision Darrelle Revis has to make.”

With the Patriots reportedly placing the franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski, the team has about a week to reach a long-term deal with safety Devin McCourty, or else he too could be headed for free agency, thus making for interesting times with the Patriots’ secondary.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Adam Vinatieri is the only player who has been hit with the franchise tag twice by the Patriots. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri is the only player who has been hit with the franchise tag twice by the Patriots. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

A few notes as we all wait for the 4 p.m. deadline on the franchise tag:

On four of the eight occasions the Patriots hit someone with the franchise tag, they did it on the last day of the window: Wes Welker (2012), Adam Vinatieri (2005), Tebucky Jones (2003) and Vinatieri (2002). The Welker announcement came just prior to the deadline.

Three of the eight tags ultimately led to contract extensions with the Patriots: Logan Mankins (2011), Vince Wilfork (2010) and Vinatieri (2002). Wilfork’€™s offseason came at the end of the tumultuous few months for the defensive lineman, who was strongly against the idea of being tagged. He eventually acquiesced, and that set the stage for a new five-year deal that made him the highest-paid nose tackle in the league.

In addition, on three occasions, a player played that year under the franchise tag, and then departed as a free agent the following year: Welker (2012), Asante Samuel (2007) and Vinatieri (2005). In retrospect, it was clear that few players wanted to get out of town faster than Samuel. He held out for most of the offseason and into the summer, eventually signing his tender on Aug, 27. He left as a free agent the following offseason –€” he was in Philly at a press conference announcing his signing with the Eagles less than 18 hours following the start of free agency the next year.

And two players were tagged and then traded: Matt Cassel (2009) to the Chiefs and Jones (2003) to the Saints. While a few different scenarios could play out between now and the end of the offseason if one of the Patriots is tagged between now and the deadline, this is probably not one of them.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
When it comes to his future in New England, Darrelle Revis is facing an important stretch. (Getty Images)

When it comes to his future in New England, Darrelle Revis is facing an important stretch. (Getty Images)

This week kicks off an important stretch when it comes to the future Darrelle Revis and the Patriots, as the team and the cornerback are facing a few important deadlines as it relates to his current deal.

March 2 – The deadline for the 2015 franchise tag is set for Monday afternoon. This deadline is moot, as the Patriots cannot hit him with the franchise or transition tag for 2015. However, New England still has exclusive negotiating rights with the cornerback when it comes to a possible new deal, one we’ve written about in the past. (Joel Corry of CBS Sports also has a terrific breakdown on what it might take to get a new deal for Revis here.)

March 9 – The deadline for Revis’ option year for the Patriots. If option is picked up, he would make $20 million in 2015 with New England (with a $25 million camp number), including a $12 million roster bonus, which would be due on March 10. Even for a difference-maker like Revis, it’s a massive number, and as a result, it wasn’t a surprise to hear Patriots president Jonathan Kraft tell WEEI last month that he viewed the option as a “placeholder” that would keep in New England for another year.

“He is under contract for next year. I realize that it’s probably, people understand that that’s a placeholder,” Kraft said on Feb. 6. “We’ll get to work on trying to make that happen and hopefully both sides will want to make a deal and we’ll get that done. He’s been everything and more since he’s been here.”

As Pro Football Talk notes, if the Patriots do exercise the option on Revis, franchise safety Devin McCourty (at roughly $9.5 million a year) and pay cornerback Brandon Browner the $5.5 million they currently owe him for 2015 ($2 million of which comes in the form of a roster bonus due next week), that would mean they’d be committing more than $40 million to their secondary, a massive amount that could leave some other key free agents (Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Stephen Gostkowski) out in the cold when it comes to potentially re-upping with the Patriots.

If the option isn’t exercised — as previously stated — the Patriots are prohibited from designating Revis as their franchise or transition player for 2015. That would mean he’d be released, and free to negotiate with anyone else. However, there is the remote possibility that the Patriots could exercise the option on Revis, and then circle back around with his reps in an attempt to try and re-work the deal in hopes of gaining more financial flexibility down the road.

Match 10 – The start of the new league year. At that point, if the Patriots have not picked up his option for 2015, Revis is a free agent, and is available to begin negotiations with anyone else. While it would free up a sizable amount of cap space for New England, it would also mean the Patriots would be bidding against the rest of the field for the cornerback.

There would be no shortage of suitors for Revis — Jets owner Woody Johnson said on Dec. 29 he’d love to have Revis back with the Jets, while new Buffalo coach Rex Ryan has a deep relationship with the cornerback who he worked with for six seasons in North Jersey. That doesn’t even take into account the rest of the league, who would gladly pony up the cash for a chance to sign Revis.

Over the summer, there was a report that the Patriots had already started working on Revis about a potential long-term deal, but when talk of his current contract came up over the course of the year, he quickly shut things down.

“I mean, you guys know my contract — there’s no reason to really get into it,” he said in June. “I’m here. I’m here for this year.

“Everything else will take care of itself after the season.”

And now, both sides have arrived at that point. While it’s important to note that the team-building process is a year-round activity, it’s clear that the first steps in the creation of the 2015 team — and whether or not Revis will be part of the mix — will start to come into sharper focus over the next few days.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price