The Patriots are reportedly in talks w/safety Devin McCourty on an extension. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty has had an interesting start to his career.

After having a terrific rookie season where he was essentially a shut down cornerback in New England’s defense, picking off a team high seven passes during his rookie year, it’s been quite a journey to where he is now.

He followed that up with a rough sophomore effort, struggling in coverage and having quite a frustrating year.

But since then after Bill Belichick elected to move McCourty to safety, he’s quietly become one of the best in the NFL.  Now it appears he’s about to potentially be paid like one.

McCourty is entering into the final year of his rookie deal and according to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, the team has reached out to the now-veteran defensive back about a contract extension.  However, local beat writer Nick Underhill reports that nothing substantial has emerged from those talks just yet. He’s scheduled to make $3.97M in the final year of his rookie deal, with most feeling his new contract could come in around the neighborhood of the Saints Darius Byrd, who signed a six year contract worth $56 million with $26 million in guarantees this offseason.

He played well in 2013, finishing as the top ranked safety by ProFootballFocus.com and also number one in passes defensed by his fellow peers at that position.  He’s been a guy who has received consistent praise from head coach Bill Belichick.  However, even in practice he’s made his presence known, with Tom Brady even noting McCourty’s performances force him to work harder selling play fakes and making the offense more effective.

“Devin is a great player.  The play that was made the other day with he and [now released DB Marquice Cole], that was an amazing play,” Brady told the Boston Globe last November. “Devin was basically on the other side of the field and took off running. To be able to cover that much ground and have that kind of range as a post safety is remarkable.

“I see that every day in practice. You really have to look Devin off. He’s really smart, he sees combinations and sometimes you try to look him off, and he knows you’re trying to look him off so he doesn’t take it. There are other times he gets great jumps on the ball. He knocks balls away, covers guys in man coverage, and then has that range in the deep part of the field where he truly plays like a safety.”

Now he’s emerged as one of the best in the league.  Hopefully having him back in their secondary with newly acquired cornerback Darrelle Revis will also make New England’s offense better working against them in practice.

If all goes well should they can get a deal done with McCourty to keep him for the foreseeable future and extend Revis beyond this year, it’s hard not to like how this unit may look in the years to come.