Here's when we should know whether Devin McCourty will play in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
You're next, Devin McCourty.
After Matthew Slater announced he'll return to the New England Patriots in 2023 for a 16th NFL season, the attention shifted to McCourty, a pending free agent who faces a similar decision about whether to retire or run it back for Year 14.
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It sounds like McCourty isn't rushing that decision, however.
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"I've gone back and forth," McCourty said Tuesday on "The Patriots Report" podcast with Christopher Price. "I think the good thing is I actually have a vacation coming up with the family, and then I’m going to go hang out with (twin brother Jason McCourty) for a week.
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"I think just being able to get away from football, especially as you kind of get older, I think it helps you put things in perspective, doing other things. So getting away with my family and J’s family, and then I’m going to do (NFL Network's) "Good Morning Football" for a week. Just having fun with him, talking ball and doing what we’ve done since (we were) kids."
So, a vacation with the family, a week of guest-hosting "Good Morning Football" ... and then maybe a decision after that?
McCourty said he'll make the call one way or the other before NFL free agency begins March 17 -- and potentially a week or two before that date.
"It’ll be early March, second week in March, and we’ll start to, I think for me and my wife, decide and plan what the next year looks like," McCourty said. "I think that’s around the time where free agency will be coming up, so it’ll be the right time to really start digging in and make a decision."
While McCourty has lost a step or two over the years, he still played all 17 games in 2022 as the Patriots' starting free safety and team co-captain. The 35-year-old would leave a significant void in New England's secondary and an even bigger leadership void if he decided to step away in 2023.
Perhaps Slater's decision to return will coax McCourty back to the team, but he does sound truly undecided with less than a month before free agency.
"I look forward to next year and I see me doing different things," McCourty added. "I also see me playing. I think that’s the really hard thing about trying to decide what’s best for you and your family."
The Patriots would benefit from knowing McCourty's plans as soon as possible to determine whether they need to replace the team's second-longest-tenured player and locker room leader.