wasn't franchise tagged by the New England Patriots yesterday, making him th..."/> wasn't franchise tagged by the New England Patriots yesterday, making him th..."/>

How Much for Devin McCourty?

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Devin McCourty wasn’t franchise tagged by the New England Patriots yesterday, making him the top safety set to hit free agency.

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In a weak safety year, McCourty could command some serious dough during the 2015 NFL Free Agency period. That’s no problem for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the highest amount of cap space available, but they may want to spend that money in other places (

like a top-flight wide receiver

,

or a top tier tight end

, or

the game’s most dominant defensive tackle

). McCourty will definitely be a consideration (and should be) but I just got done saying he shouldn’t be a major concern, especially since I don’t think Bill Belichick will let him leave New England easily.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss is inclined to agree with me.

Trusting him (as he is a quality writer) puts the play for McCourty in a peculiar situation, however. As can be anticipated with Bill Belichick, the Patriots likely won’t attempt to pay top-safety dollar for McCourty despite him being a key player on their championship defense. Here’s what Reiss had to say:

"Deals for top safeties average between $8-10 million per season as the market has spiked the past two years. McCourty is viewed as the top free-agent safety this offseason and it’s also notable that the draft class is considered weak at the position, so he could be set to receive a big-time offer from another team. My viewpoint is the Patriots would be close to the bottom of that $8-10 million range with any offer for McCourty. Would that be enough to close the deal once he hits the open market?"

The Pats have seen key players walk before and McCourty would simply be another in a long list of those departures if he wanted more than around the $8 million we could expect the Patriots to spend. This isn’t Tom Brady we’re talking about here!

That really frees things up for the Jaguars who have a major need at free safety and are more than willing to spend money this offseason. Is $10 million a year too much for one of the best in the business? To me it doesn’t seem too bad, especially if it outbids the Patriots and fills that gaping black hole in the Jags’ secondary.