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New England Patriots, Devin McCourty begin talks on a new long-term deal

Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots reacts after being called for defensive holding late in the fourth qurter of a loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 24-2
Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots reacts after being called for defensive holding late in the fourth qurter of a loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 24-2
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are interested in locking up safety Devin McCourty before he hits free agency. According to NFL.com on Friday, the Patriots are reportedly off to a head start in contract talks with McCourty, who is in the final year of his rookie deal.

Entering into his fifth season, McCourty has been one of the bright spots in the Patriots’ defense over the last few seasons. He made a major impact at cornerback his rookie season, but after struggling during his second season with the team, McCourty was converted to safety where he has flourished as one of the best in the league behind Earl Thomas and Jarius Byrd.

The Patriots expressing interest in signing the All-Pro safety to a long-term contract shows that the team is committed to keeping McCourty around. He is set to earn a $3.92 million base salary with a salary-cap hit over $5 million this season. The Patriots are smart at maneuvering their money and can make a contract extension work by lowering McCourty’s 2014 salary by extending him and would serve as a benefit to the team as they would be able to caver over more cap room into the 2015 season.

As contract talks are only in the early stages, McCourty could demand a little less than the contract Byrd signed with the Saints, which was a six-year, $54 million contract with $26 million in guaranteed money. McCourty would be worth the money as he has only missed three starts in four seasons. He was actually ranked as Pro Football Focus’top-ranked safety last season and has been the team’s defensive captain over the last couple years.

McCourty could also be credited with convincing Vince Wilfork to re-structure his contract and remain with the team after the veteran defensive tackle demanded the team release him. This season, McCourty will be part of a defensive backfield that includes Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Alfonso Dennard and young emerging players, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon.