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Patriots 90-Man Roster Spotlight: Raekwon McMillan

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New England Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan (50) lines up against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The New England Patriots can have up to 90 players under contract during the offseason. Patriots Football Now will profile all 90 players (though there are currently 91 on the roster) over the upcoming months. Today’s featured player is offensive tackle Raekwon McMillan.

Raekwon McMillan

McMillan was a five-star recruit out of Liberty County High School in Hinsville, Ga. He played collegiately for Ohio State. In three seasons with the Buckeyes, McMillan was twice named first-team All-Big Ten. The Miami Dolphins selected Raekwon McMillan in the second round (No. 54 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, McMillan’s struggles to stay healthy in the NFL began immediately. He tore his ACL in the Dolphins’ first preseason game. The injury forced him to miss his entire rookie season. He returned in 2018 and started all 16 games for Miami. McMillan amassed an impressive 105 tackles (69 solo) including five tackles for a loss. He played one more season with the Dolphins, starting 12 of the 13 games. He missed the final three games of the season due to a hamstring injury.

Also Read – What Jahlani Tavai’s Extension Means for New England

Miami traded McMillan to Las Vegas before final cuts in 2020. He played in all 16 games for the Raiders, primarily as a core special teams player. He signed with the New England Patriots after one year with the Raiders.

Raekwon McMillan’s injury luck did not improve in New England. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury during training camp before playing a game for the Patriots. He came back in 2022. Once again, he was used primarily as a core special teams player, though he did see time at inside linebacker as well. He finished 2022 with 35 tackles (26 solo) including five tackles for a loss. He also recorded his first NFL sack and returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Raekwon McMillan suffered the third season-ending injury of his career during 2023 OTAs. He tore his Achilles tendon, forcing him out of action for all of last season. He signed a one-year extension to stay with New England.

Pro Football Focus has graded McMillan unfavorably throughout his career. His two best seasons were during his time in Miami. His special teams work for New England was solid in 2022, aside from two penalties, which significantly impacted his grade.

Contract Status

Raekwon McMillan has one year remaining on the extension he signed with the New England Patriots. He makes $1,615,882 for 2024. He becomes an unrestricted free agent following the season.

Inside Linebackers Group

The New England Patriots have eight inside linebackers vying for roster positions. Starters Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai are both locks. Raekwon McMillan is joined by veterans Sione Takitaki, Christian Elliss, Joe Giles-Harris, and UDFAs Jontrey Hunter and Steele Chambers.

Outlook for Raekwon McMillan

McMillan has become a bit of a forgotten man in New England. Despite entering his fourth season with the Patriots, he has missed two of three full seasons due to injury. However, the inside linebackers are thin on experience and his ability to be a core special teams player will be crucial in him trying to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

Bill Belichick thought highly of McMillan. Do the current decision-makers in Foxboro feel the same way? The reserve inside linebackers will all need to be able to play special teams. McMillan, Takitaki, and Elliss have all shown an ability to do so at the NFL level. But once again, with a new staff in place, it is difficult to project how many core special teams players the team plans to retain. These are no longer Belichick’s Patriots.

The guess here is that a combination of contributions on defense and special teams will determine which reserves emerge from camp on the New England Patriots 53-man roster. Raekwon McMillan struggled in coverage, even dating back to his most productive seasons in Miami. However, the Patriots have invested four seasons of salary into one season of play to date. He’ll get a chance to prove he can be a solid reserve linebacker who can contribute on special teams. Whether he shows more than the others he’s competing against remains to be seen.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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