Patriots safety Devin McCourty thought he needed to leave New England this offseason.
Everybody else did, so why should he be different?
But he said the ability to play with his brother again and the new test presented by rebuilding the Patriots was enough to convince him to come back, at a time when most other Patriots veterans were heading out the door.
“Going into free agency, I was thinking that at this stage in my career, I was ready for a change,” McCourty wrote in the Players Tribune. I mean, I love New England. But after 10 years and winning three Super Bowls, something inside was telling me that I was ready for a new challenge. And I thought I might have to go elsewhere to find it.”
McCourty acknowledged the obvious, that without Brady quarterbacking the team after 20 years and six Super Bowls, maintaining the level they’re accustomed to will be difficult. But he’s leaning into that effort.
“People are going to say that because Tom’s gone, the dynasty is over,” he wrote. “They’re already burying us, far as I can tell. And that’s fine. Let ’em. 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. That’s where the new challenge comes in.
“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. That’s what I’m most excited about moving forward.”
As one of the few remaining links to past success, it will be hard for McCourty to keep his team at that level. But he wanted a challenge, and he has certainly found one.