The Patriots continue to maintain their defensive depth by retaining the fifth player this offseason who played on Bill Belichick's defense during the 2022 season.
New England is bringing back linebacker Mack Wilson on a one-year contract, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The move comes as a bit of a surprise after Wilson didn't play a single defensive snap after Week 13 last season. In the first 13 weeks, the explosive linebacker played 236 snaps but didn't see the field defensively in the final five games of the season.
Although he fell out of favor on defense, Wilson maintained a significant role on special teams, ranking fifth on the team with 284 snaps (62.1%) in 2022. Along with maintaining their depth at off-ball linebacker, Wilson should remain a regular in the kicking game.
Defensively, Wilson played mainly as an off-ball linebacker at the second level of the defense. After struggling with eye discipline and gap integrity in the running game early on, he began playing almost exclusively on passing downs, logging 73.5% of his defensive snaps in coverage or the pass rush. Wilson is comfortable playing low zone assignments in coverage while emerging as a useful quarterback spy in New England's rush packages on third down.
The Pats linebacker registered 1.5 sacks and ten quarterback pressures, typically playing over the center to shadow quarterbacks in Belichick's five-man pass-rush schemes. He was effective in that role for the most part, with the athletic ability and closing speed to match mobile QBs.
New England also retained linebacker Raekwon McMillan earlier this week, with starter Ja'Whaun Bentley and versatile role player Jahlani Tavai under contract. McMillan and Wilson returning likely signals that the inside linebacker depth chart is mostly set for next season.