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New England Patriots

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots are re-signing a linebacker that was on the verge of becoming a free agent.

As reported by Jim McBride of the Boston Globe via Twitter on Friday, the Pats have “agreed to terms on a new deal” with Raekwon McMillan, who had spent the previous two seasons in New England. No further reports have indicated the terms of his new contract, which will be finalized just before the start of free agency and the 2023 league year on Wednesday.

McMillan played 16 games for the Patriots in 2022, with one start, but played only 23 percent of the total defensive snaps. He logged one sack and 35 total tackles, including five tackles for loss. His biggest contribution to the 2022 season was a recovery of a DeAndre Hopkins fumble that he ran back 23 yards for a touchdown against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. The play broke a third-quarter tie at the time, and the Patriots went on to win 27-13.

  • The news comes on the heels of the Patriots defense losing a major presence at safety, with the retirement of Devin McCourty. But at inside linebacker, depth behind Ja’Whaun Bentley was a concern for 2023 roster-building. McMillan should certainly provide that.

    Jahlani Tavai remains under contract as well, but he played his best football in 2022 in an edge role. The Pats are well-set at outside linebacker for 2023, with Matthew Judon under contract for two more years. They still have Josh Uche and Afternee Jennings, but both will be entering the final years of their rookie deals.

    Mack Wilson, meanwhile, remains on track to hit unrestricted free agency on Wednesday. The Patriots brought Wilson aboard in a trade with the Browns for Chase Winovich with an eye toward impact play in an off-the-ball linebacker role. Assuming the Pats don’t try one more year with Wilson, they will have an opening for such a player.

  • GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 12: Raekwon McMillan #50 of the New England Patriots recovers a fumble to score a 23 yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 12: Raekwon McMillan #50 of the New England Patriots recovers a fumble to score a 23 yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

  • New England is flush with pass-rushers and run-stoppers at linebacker, but it could use better overall pass coverage at the position. If Bill Belichick wants to use a good chunk of cap space on impact at that spot, the biggest free agents to know are Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds and veterans Lavonte David and Bobby Wagner. But you should also keep an eye on T.J. Edwards, Germaine Pratt, Leighton Vander Esch, Drue Tranquill, and David Long.

    We’ll keep you updated throughout free agency week here at 985TheSportsHub.com, including live updates via our own Free Agency Tracker, and the latest news & rumors involving the Patriots.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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