The Titans are taking a risk giving McCourty this 5 year, 43 million dollar deal with 20 million guaranteed. McCourty was actually thrown on more frequently than any cornerback in the league last year, being thrown on once every 4.6 coverage snaps. However, this was because opposing quarterbacks feared throwing on Cortland Finnegan, the opposite cornerback and the Titans’ #1 cornerback. Finnegan was thrown on once every 7.6 coverage snaps, which was the 8th best rate in the NFL.
However, McCourty held up very well being thrown on that much. He allowed 71 completions on 117 attempts (60.7%) for 802 yards (6.9 YPA), 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions, while deflecting 10 passes and committing 2 penalties. He also graded out as ProFootballFocus’ best cornerback against the run because he ranked 4th at his position with a run stop rate of 3.9% and 4th at his position in run snap tackles, while missing only 1.
For his total efforts, he was ProFootballFocus’ 7th ranked cornerback. Having an elite cornerback like Cortland Finnegan is obviously very valuable, but he would have been less valuable if opposing quarterbacks could just had success picking on the other cornerback. McCourty was picked on often, but did not allow quarterbacks to have a lot of success and was a big part of a Titans pass defense that ranked 4th in the league in YPA allowed (6.4 YPA), despite a pass rush that ranked 31st in the league in sacks (28) and 31st in the league in pass rush productivity (sacks + .75 quarterback hits + .75 quarterback pressures/total pass rush snaps).
McCourty also played pretty well in 2010 in a more limited role as the 2009 6th round pick, allowing 31 completions on 52 attempts (59.6%) for 287 yards (5.5 YPA), 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, while deflecting 8 passes and committing 3 penalties. However, McCourty is still only a one year wonder as he’s only been a full time starter for 1 season (he made just 6 starts in 2010) and he’s never been a full-time #1 cornerback and covered opponent’s #1 receivers because the Titans always had Cortland Finnegan to take care of that (I say full-time because Finnegan also functioned as the Titans’ slot cornerback last year and would move inside in 3-cornerback sets, often leaving McCourty to cover the opponent’s #1 wide receiver, assuming that receiver didn’t move into the slot as well).
For that reason, in a normal scenario, he wouldn’t seem to deserve this kind of money as someone as a 1 year wonder above average #2 cornerback. This is elite #1 cornerback money. He only got 7 million over 5 years less in maximum money than Cortland Finnegan got from the Rams this offseason and 4 million less in guaranteed money (Finnegan’s deal was 5 years, 50 million with 24 million guaranteed).
However, this isn’t quite a normal scenario. With Finnegan gone, McCourty will become the #1 cornerback this year. He’s talented enough and has some experience covering #1 cornerbacks (albeit only in certain scenarios) so he definitely could break out as an elite #1 cornerback this year and shed the one year wonder label at the same time.
If he had done that, he would have commanded upwards of 50 million dollars over 5 years on the open market. The cornerback franchise tag is one of the most expensive in the league (tied for 2nd highest at 10.6 million this season) so that wouldn’t have been much of a cheaper option for the Titans and they can’t really afford to lose their #1 cornerback two offseasons in a row. The Titans are taking a chance that McCourty can emerge into that type of player this season, but they really believe in him and he definitely could make this deal look like a relative bargain.
If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2