Devin McCourty Says People 'Burying' Patriots After Tom Brady Signed with Bucs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2020

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 08: Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots reacts during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs in the game at Gillette Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty doesn't believe the franchise's window for contenting for a Super Bowl closed the moment Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In an essay for The Players' Tribune, the longtime Patriot acknowledged the team is prepared for life after Brady:

"People are going to say that because Tom's gone, the dynasty is over. 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."

For the first time since 2016, the Patriots will open a season without Brady under center. In that instance, the three-time MVP was serving his Deflategate suspension and only missed four games. New England still went 14-2 and won a Super Bowl.

The franchise claimed an 11th straight AFC East title in 2019. The last time it finished runner-up was 2008, when Brady tore his ACL and MCL in Week 1.

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Much of the skepticism surrounding the Patriots stems from the fact they appear to be embracing their transitional period.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported New England agreed to a one-year deal with Brian Hoyer, so one of Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham is likely to be the starting quarterback to start 2020.

The 34-year-old Hoyer has made only 38 starts over his NFL career, while Stidham threw four passes as a rookie, one of which was a pick-six.

Perhaps the Patriots could make a move for Jameis Winston or Cam Newton, the latter of whom is set to become a free agent, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. New England only has $7 million in salary cap space, so signing with the team would require Winston or Newton to basically take backup QB money.

Bill Belichick has accomplished more than enough to earn the benefit of the doubt. In addition, the Patriots have time and again silenced those who questioned whether the curtain was starting to close on their dynasty.

Having said that, nothing lasts forever, and sooner or later New England will enter a fallow period. Maybe Belichick can stave off the inevitable for at least one more year.

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