According to reports from Tom Pelissero and the Boston Globe's Jim McBride, the Patriots are trading Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for linebacker Mack Wilson.
Wilson is entering his fourth season out of Alabama with 28 starts under his belt after being selected in the fifth round of the 2019 entry draft. With a bevy of unproven edge players on their roster, swapping Winovich for the inside, off-the-ball linebacker Wilson makes sense, especially when viewed through the lens of free agents Dont'a Hightower and Ja'Whaun Bentley, who were New England's main inside starters in 2021.
Wilson is a young player at 24 years old, but only has one year remaining on his initial rookie contract, set to pay him a base salary of $2.5 million in 2022. He checks a lot of the boxes one might expect from a former member of the Crimson Tide, with NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein writing this about him when he was coming out of college:
"He is today's version of an NFL linebacker with adequate size, plus strength and toughness, speed to pursue and an ability to handle coverage duties on any down," wrote Zierlein. "Wilson is like a classically trained musician who hits his notes on time, but the question is whether or not he can play as a free-form, improvisational talent when the opportunity arises. Either way, he's a solid, three-down starter in any defensive scheme."
Wilson is a bit smaller than New England's traditional inside linebackers, as the move could signal plans to get more athletic on the second level. He'll enter a competition with a number of less experienced players in New England's system including Raekwon McMillan and Cameron McGrone, along with players like Jahlani Tavai, Harvey Langi and Anfernee Jennings.