The New England Patriots have made their first outside acquisition of free agency week, and it comes via trade. The team is acquiring Mack Wilson from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for fellow linebacker Chase Winovich, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
Winovich, 26, first joined the Patriots as a third-round selection in the 2019 draft. The Michigan product went on to appear in 46 combined regular season and playoff games for the team over the next three seasons, registering 11 sacks along the way — including a team-best 5.5 in 2020.
The 2021 season, however, proved to be a struggle for Winovich. He missed time due to a hamstring injury and was unable to earn a regular spot in the outside linebacker rotation. He finished the season without any quarterback takedowns and saw more action on special teams than defense.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Winovich was seen as a realistic candidate to be traded. Now, a move has indeed been made.
Wilson, 24, arrived in the NFL as a fifth-round pick by the Browns in 2019. The Alabama product earned a starting role in his rookie year but by 2021 was serving in a rotational off-the-ball role. In total, he has seen action in 43 regular season games and two playoff contests. Like Winovich, Wilson was also regularly used on special teams.
His role in New England, however, projects as a starter-level member of the team’s off-the-ball linebacker corps. With Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins all headed for unrestricted free agency, Wilson might see prominent snaps right away.
The trade decreases the Patriots’ salary cap space by $1.58 million, down to $6.84 million (via Miguel Benzan).
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