One of the major weaknesses of the 2017 New England Patriots was the team's depth at the linebacker position. With both Dont'a Hightower and Shea McClellin out for the year, the team was unable to consistently defend the middle of the field against both the pass and second-level runs. While Hightower's loss was the bigger one due to his versatility and playmaking abilities, McClellin's also cannot be underestimated.
The former first round draft pick missed the entire season due to a series of concussions. Despite his recent injury history, however, McClellin intends to continue player (according to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe):
Despite suffering a couple concussions that wiped out his 2017 season, Pats LB Shea McClellin does intend to continue playing, per source. He’s under contract for 2018.
McClellin was originally put on injured reserve in September after suffering what appears to be a serious concussion at one point during the preseason. The 28-year old was designated to return off the list in November but was never activated to the active roster due to a setback during practice. Despite the issues, as Howe notes, McClellin plans to continue playing – which is good news for a Patriots defense in need of talented depth.
When healthy, the former Chicago Bear is projected to be one of the team's top three linebackers alongside the aforementioned Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. He played 37% of New England's defensive snaps during the 2016 season, his first with the Patriots, and will be on the team's books with a salary cap hit of $3.18 million this year.