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Patriots Roster Breakdown: Should UFA Mack Wilson Sr. Return?

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New England Patriots linebacker Mack Wilson, was the highest ranked Patriots defensive player by Pro Football Focus for Week 13

There are expected to be a lot of changes in the New England Patriots locker room before the 2024 season gets underway. The coaching staff has already seen significant turnover, most notably with Jerod Mayo replacing Bill Belichick as the Patriots head coach.

But what will the New England roster look like in the fall? Some of that will be determined by players not currently on the team. The NFL Draft and free agency will both bring new faces to Foxboro. But what about the players from 2023?

Patriots Football Now will look at all potential players before Week 1 arrives in September. Today’s Patriots Roster Breakdown featured player: Mack Wilson Sr.

Mack Wilson Sr.

Mack Wilson Sr. is a five-year NFL veteran. Despite having been in the league for a bit, Wilson just turned 26 this month. He played his first three seasons with Cleveland. The Browns selected Wilson in the fifth round (No. 155 overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. New England traded Chase Winovich to Cleveland for Wilson before the 2022 season.

Wilson played college football at Alabama. He helped the Crimson Tide win three SEC titles and the 2017 National Championship.

Last season Wilson contributed on defense and special teams. He finished with career highs in sacks (3.5), tackles for loss (four) and QB hits (four). He compiled 37 tackles, 24 solo. He played in only 27% of defensive snaps, but 68% on special teams as one of the core players.

Pro Football Focus viewed Wilson favorably in 2023. His defensive grade for the season was 80.8. It was the highest grade of his career. In 2022 he graded out defensive at 47.2, which is not even worthy of a roster spot. This makes Wilson one of the most improved players in the entire NFL. In 2016, Wilson was a five-star recruit, ranked No. 19 overall in the entire country. With his vast improvement, still being young, and a solid pedigree, Wilson still has a very high upside.

Contract Status

Mack Wilson Sr. is an unrestricted free agent. He is free to sign with any team when free agency opens on March 13.

Linebacker Group

This group was coached, in part, by new head coach Jerod Mayo last year so he is very familiar with what he is working with. Matthew Judon will be returning from an injury-shortened season, so there should be a huge boost to an already solid unit from that alone. Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings join Wilson as free agents in the group. Joining Judon among those signed for next season are Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai, Raekwon McMillan, and Joe Giles-Harris. Christian Elliss is an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) who is likely to return as well. Bentley and Tavai are the only two locks to be on the Week 1 roster at this point.

Outlook for Mack Wilson Sr.

Mack Wilson Sr. spoke to Sophie Weller of A to Z Sports and openly expressed his excitement over Jerod Mayo being named as Patriots’ new head coach. However, this does not mean Wilson is a lock to return to New England.

“Obviously he’s my position coach the last two years and stuff, but also I’m going to test the market, see what’s out there, and things like that. And try my best to make the best decision for me and my family,” Wilson explained.

“Mayo’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had in my life. I would love to continue to play for him, to get that experience, to be a part of that new era, to be a part of that cultural change and things like that. But when it’s all said and done, when that time comes, I’m gonna make the best decision I feel that’s right for my family.”

Tough to blame him. The thinking here is that Mack Wilson Sr.’s market will make him an attractive player to bring back. If he gets a great offer elsewhere it would be tough to match given how many needs the New England Patriots have. He is versatile and if he continues to improve, he should continue to see a bigger defensive workload as well. However, given his comfort level with the team, and vice versa, Wilson coming back to New England seems a good bet at this point.

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