Patriots safety Devin McCourty has been in the NFL long enough to understand it is a business, and knows he needs to approach it as such.
So as he works out in preparation for the 2014 season, the last of the five-year rookie contract he signed after being taken with the 27th pick in 2010, McCourty’s focus is on improving his play and helping his team, not his contract status.
“I don’t even think about it,” McCourty, 26, said Tuesday. “Just go out, play football, and I truly just believe the rest will take care of itself.’’
Asked if he’s hoping to receive an extension, McCourty replied, “Just to play. That’s all I focus on. Nothing else I can control. I like to not drive myself crazy.”
Reworking McCourty’s contract now could buy the Patriots some salary cap relief. McCourty’s playing time activated escalators that pushed his base salary for the coming season to nearly $4 million. Added to the pro-rated remainder of his signing bonus, he counts for $5.115 million against the cap.
McCourty was at Boston Children’s Hospital to visit children and their parents who gathered for a decorate-your-own-pancakes brunch event, before helping to serve some children who were too ill to leave their rooms.
As he has been each season, McCourty was one of New England’s stalwarts in 2013. Playing safety full time after being moved there midway through the 2012 season, he recorded 75 tackles (59 solo), with 8 pass break-ups, 1 interception — as well as a memorable tip-drill assist on a Marquice Cole pick in Week 8 — 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.
Not a bone-crushing safety like Seattle’s Kam Chancellor, McCourty is steady, and is often lauded by coach Bill Belichick and teammates for his intelligence and communication.
His consistency led to McCourty being named second-team All-Pro. He was second-team All-Pro at cornerback after his rookie season.
McCourty is proud of being named at two positions.
“It’s definitely a true honor and it’s hard work paying off, and it’s always good to be recognized,” McCourty said. “I think now the biggest thing is to keep improving these team goals and these team achievements. [We were] close this year and I think everyone knows that as a player everyone wants to win the big one and that’s really my focus, on getting better and how I can help the team get better and go on to that big stage and win it.”
McCourty’s pick to win the Super Bowl was the Seahawks, saying he liked the team with the stronger defense.
He believes New England is close to having a game-changing defense, pointing to what the unit was doing early last season, before injuries claimed key players.
“I think the guys we have in the locker room” gives him confidence in what’s possible, he said. “Last year we went through a lot defensively and as a team. To see guys continue to work hard and try to get better and go out there [and] to win as many games as we did . . . [we did] fall a little short, but it gives you the confidence going forward that we know we have the right guys there to build something.”
While at Children’s, McCourty met with doctors who specialize in the treatment and research of sickle cell anemia, a disease of great personal interest to him. He has an aunt who suffers from the disease and it is the focus of the charitable foundation McCourty and twin brother Jason began last year.
Tackle Sickle Cell held its second annual blood drive a couple of weeks ago, and in June there will be a 5-kilometer run/walk in Jersey City.
“I got to learn some great things about sickle cell and how I can be more involved and help out,” McCourty said.“The doctors here are amazing. The research that they’re putting in and how close they are to trying to cure this disease is remarkable, and for me to sit there it’s very humbling to see their work.
“We play football, and for the media, for people it’s such a big deal, [but] to hear their research and things they’ve been able to do and how they’re able to do it and they make it sound so simple, it’s truly amazing. I was humbled and I enjoyed sitting there and listening to all the different doctors and what they do.”