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Giants potential free-agent target: Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots

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Let's look at the best free-agent safety who could hit the open market.

Devin McCourty celebrating New England's Super Bowl 49 victory on Sunday
Devin McCourty celebrating New England's Super Bowl 49 victory on Sunday
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

We have said again and again this offseason that the New York Giants could be looking to make some changes at the safety position in 2015. Don't count on Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots being part of those changes.

Bringing the former Rutgers star back to New Jersey to help shore up the back end of the Giants' defense has been a scenario some Giants' fans have been dreaming about for months. It seems unlikely that the free-agent safety will end up doing anything but staying right where he is, with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

"McCourty is one of the best free safeties in the game and he's a player the Patriots would love to keep," said Rich Hill of SB Nation's Patriots web site, Pat Pulpit  "His teammates refer to him as coach's 'favorite' since he never gets into trouble and he never makes the same mistake twice. He's a second-team All Pro at both cornerback and safety, so he provides plus coverage ability and speed on the back end. He's the Patriots No. 1 free agent priority (as Darrelle Revis is technically under contract) and they'll do everything to keep him in house. McCourty has expressed a desire to stay in New England, referring to it as his 'home.' "

New England hasn't gotten to six Super Bowls, winning four, in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era by stupidly letting top-notch players in their prime walk away. McCourty, 27, is exactly that.

He was a first-round pick in 2010 and was named second-team All Pro as a cornerback as a rookie. The Patriots moved him to safety in 2012, and in 2013 he was second-team All-Pro in that spot. He has 17 career interceptions and has missed only three games in his five-year career.

As Hill indicated, McCourty clearly wants to stay with the Patriots:

"I hope not. We’ll see, but I hope not," McCourty told CSNNE.com’s Tom E. Curran in the wake of New England’s Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seattle Seahawks. "This ride has been incredible — being in the Super Bowl twice and winning it once — there’s not much a player can ask for except for being at home. And this is home."

An article written the week before the Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks referred to McCourty as "the anchor of New England's defensive back corps."

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal certainly does not expect the Patriots to let McCourty slip away:

Strong guess: He's viewed internally as more important to retain than Revis, Vince Wilfork or virtually any other Patriot. He's a captain and one of Belichick's favorite for his smarts. The franchise tag is a possibility.

McCourty is also a leader, having been named a defensive captain in each of the past four seasons.

There is no doubt the Giants could use a player with McCourty's skills, both on the field and in the locker room. The Patriots are in a salary cap bind, only $4.53 million under the projected $140 million cap, per Over The Cap.

The highest-paid safeties in the league make between $8 and $10 million annually, with Earl Thomas of Seattle topping the charts at an even $10 million per season. The Patriots will have to clear cap space to make that happen, but it seems almost certain that they will find a way to do just that.

Bringing McCourty home to New Jersey is a nice dream. New England, though, seems highly unlikely to allow it to become a reality.