The New England Patriots had one of the NFL's best secondaries last season, but the group will have some new faces in 2020.
The Patriots reportedly have agreed to contracts with veteran safeties Adrian Phillips and Cody Davis. These additions will help the Patriots replace safeties Duron Harmon (traded to the Detroit Lions) and Nate Ebner (signed with the New York Giants), who've both departed this offseason.
Phillips was an All-Pro in 2018. He's a versatile player with the ability to play both safety positions and linebacker. Davis likely will play a role on special teams, where he played the third-most snaps in the league last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Devin McCourty has been a pillar of the Patriots defensive for a decade, and on a media conference call Wednesday, he reacted to the additions of Phillips and Davis.
"I just know a little bit about both of them. Obviously, experienced guys, Cody Davis is a guy who plays different roles, played on special teams. And then, obviously, Adrian Phillips we watched when the Chargers made that run in the playoffs. Having all those DBs on the field and (Phillips) being able to look to play linebacker, play safety, play a bunch of different roles. Overall, that's us in a nutshell, that's our defense, that's our team, having guys who are team-first guys who can play multiple roles to help the team in a bunch of different ways.
"I think ultimately, all of us being able to help on special teams and have a role there really defines our team. I'm excited for some time when we all get a chance to work together and build our camaraderie. That's always the biggest thing, especially in the secondary, is building not just communication and everything but friendships and bonds of off-the-field stuff and things like that. I can't wait to, as a group, get back together and start that process and again, try to be a really good secondary going into the season."
The Patriots led the league in opposing QB completion percentage, opposing QB rating and interceptions, while ranking second in passing yards allowed last season. The secondary, highlighted by veteran cornerback and Defensive Player of the Year winner Stephon Gilmore, played a huge role in that success.
With longtime Patriots quarterback Tom Brady taking his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, the defense (and the secondary, in particular) likely will need to play at the same level it did last season for New England to be successful in 2020. McCourty is not putting any added pressure on the defense, though.
"No, I think for me, as a defense we should want to be great no matter what," McCourty said. "For years, we always have talked about us being the reason we lost games and we knew how great Tom was. I still say the same thing because the defense, your goal has to always be the same when you take the field. If we get turnovers, we dominate and get the offense back on the field.
"For us as a defense, that's something that we need to do. Last year, we didn't go into the season and say, 'We need to carry the team,' or, 'We need to do this and that.' We said, 'We need to be as good as we can.' The offense said the same thing, special teams said it, and then you see where you fall. I think we have to continue to do those same things as a defense, as an offense and overall, special teams, if you want to be a good football team."