The New England Patriots started free agency week earlier this month with a few re-signings and a trade: the team sent third-year man Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for fellow linebacker Mack Wilson. Both players saw their opportunities decrease over time with their original clubs, and have now received a new chance to prove themselves.
Wilson certainly is an intriguing player for the Patriots to add to their defensive front seven. While only entering the league as a fifth-round draft pick in 2019, he offers some enticing athleticism at the off-the-ball linebacker spot.
That said, he does not come without his questions. For starters, there is his fall from starter level to role player over three seasons as a Brown. Furthermore, Wilson has a long albeit not necessarily significant injury history.
2015 (Carver High School): Wilson’s senior year in high school was marked by a nagging shoulder injury that forced him to undergo surgery in the offseason. Nonetheless, he still led Carver with 115 tackles while also registering five sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
2016 (Alabama): Coming off his shoulder surgery, Wilson suffered a torn meniscus in June. The injury forced him to miss some time, but his in-season availability during his freshman campaign at Alabama was not impacted: he went on to see action in all 15 games in 2016.
2017 (Alabama): After already cracking a bone in his foot before the season started, he suffered a break in November versus LSU. The injury forced Wilson to miss a pair of games before his return against Auburn in the Iron Bowl three weeks later.
2018 (Alabama): While he did not miss any games during his junior season, Wilson took a brief trip to the injury tent versus Missouri in October. No injury was announced, however.
2019 (Browns): Wilson appeared to suffer a right leg injury against the Buffalo Bills in November, and jogged to the sideline alongside Cleveland’s medical staff. However, he ended up not missing any defensive snaps.
Going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in early December, an injury timeout had to be called because of Wilson. He did walk off under his own power and no injury was announced afterwards.
2020 (Browns): Wilson hurt his knee in mid-August on a tackle attempt during practice — an injury that appeared significant when it happened. He had to be helped off the field, but did avoid surgery. That said, Wilson was hampered by the issue throughout his second season as a pro.
Wilson popped up on Cleveland’s injury report ahead of a November game versus the Philadelphia Eagles. He was listed as questionable heading into the contest but did dress and play 47 percent of defensive snaps.
Wilson was evaluated for a concussion during a mid-December game in Tennessee. He passed the tests and was cleared to return.
2021 (Browns): Successfully having put his 2020 knee injury behind him, Wilson sprained his shoulder in the preseason opener versus Jacksonville. He was limited to just four snaps that game, but did not miss another exhibition or regular season contest due to the issue.
Wilson was limited in practice leading up to a Week 2 game against the Houston Texans, but he did play 41 percent of defensive snaps that week while registering six tackles.
Later that season, ahead of a matchup with the Denver Broncos, Wilson was deemed questionable to play. He did play, and was on the field for 27 total snaps between defense and special teams.
What this means for the Patriots
Wilson may have suffered quite a few injuries throughout his career, but none of them forced him to miss an extended period of time. The most serious ailments on his résumé are probably his shoulder injury and meniscus tear in 2015 and 2016, respectively, as well as the knee injury that changed the course of his career with the Browns.
Playing a physical position, some bumps and bruises simply have to be expected. The Patriots are therefore likely not worried too much about Wilson’s injury history as it relates to his potential outlook within their organization for the 2022 season.