New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 27: Cornerback Jason McCourty #30 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Plenty of notable veterans still remain on the open market in the NFL. But why? There’s a simple explanation for that.

Monday at 4 p.m. ET marks the deadline for free-agent signings to count against the NFL’s compensatory draft pick formula (h/t ESPN’s Field Yates). Once the deadline passes, that will make it easier for veteran unrestricted free agents like Jason McCourty to find suitors.

The Patriots have circumvented the compensatory pick formula in recent seasons, opting to trade for players as part of a draft pick swap with another team. That allowed them to compile a high number of compensatory picks for free agents who left the team. The approach flipped in 2021, as the Pats spent over $162 million in guaranteed money on UFAs both signed from other teams and retained from the 2020 roster.

New England drafted one defensive back last week, Missouri’s Joshuah Bledsoe, who played safety in college. Since they didn’t address cornerback (barring a future undrafted free-agent signing), McCourty could be a candidate to return for another season. Other interesting veteran defenders still available include Richard Sherman, Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston, Kwon Alexander, Kawann Short, and Geno Atkins.

These players can reasonably expect to start signing with teams as soon as Monday after 4.

MORE: Meet the Patriots’ 2021 draft class

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at