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Devin McCourty talks of uncertain future

LOWELL, Mass. -- When New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty arrived at Lowell High School for a community event Wednesday morning, he was greeted by cheers of “Re-sign D-Mac! Re-sign D-Mac!”

It was a reminder that McCourty’s future with the team remains in question, as he’s scheduled to become a free agent when the 2015 league year begins March 10.

McCourty, who previously said he hopes to return to the Patriots, acknowledged he has considered a future that isn’t in New England.

“I’ve thought about all different scenarios, whether I’m here or whether I’m somewhere else,” he said. “At this point, I don’t have a contract, so it could happen that I could be playing somewhere else. It would be crazy not to think that could [happen].”

Asked if he had a sense of how things might unfold, McCourty said, “I really don’t know. I could say anything right now, but being honest, I don’t know. It could go either way, I think.”

McCourty’s remarks came at an event in which the New England Dairy & Food Council, the Patriots and ESPNBoston teamed up to congratulate Lowell High for winning a “Fuel up to Play 60” Instagram contest in which students posted pictures showing how they fuel up using #FuelUpWithDMac.

Predictably, McCourty’s future was the hot topic of discussion when he met with reporters afterwards.

Another possibility if the Patriots and McCourty don’t reach an extension before free agency is that he could be assigned the franchise tag, at around $9.5 million. McCourty called that a worst-case scenario that wasn’t really that bad.

“To me, that’s no reason to stress. I love it here. The franchise tag is player-friendly now, it’s a good number,” he said.

McCourty signed a five-year, $10 million contract as a rookie in 2010, so in that scenario, he would almost match his prior earnings in one year.

But McCourty said the Patriots have yet to mention the franchise tag to him or his representatives at this point. He did say the Patriots have a "huge advantage" and "if all things are equal, I'll be back here." He added there have been ongoing talks all year.