Bill Belichick has a new problem to contend with. He had signed Raekwon McMillan as a linebacker to address the needs of the New England Patriots' defense. Unfortunately, McMillan tore his ACL and is expected to miss the entirety of the 2021 NFL season.
This means that the New England Patriots must again go back to the drawing board and find a solution to a vexing problem. There are different ways to solve it. One is to dip into free agency, which is separately discussed. Another is to re-sign players such as they have done with Cassh Maluia. The final option is to go for a trade with another team.
The current situation with Raekwon McMillan and the New England Patriots
Raekwon McMillan has now been placed on the injured reserve list. His base salary was reportedly US$ 920,000, and the total salary was approximately US$ 1,150,000. The deal was for 1 year, which meant he would become a free agent in 2022.
His current position is inside linebacker, mainly specializing in off-ball plays. Raekwon McMillan was not thought to have the versatility to play outside linebacker. Hence, any replacement that the New England Patriots think of must take these factors into consideration. Note, however, that the New England Patriots are supposedly well within the cap. Therefore, they can splurge on a luxury purchase in this position, if they want to.
Players the New England Patriots can trade to cover Raekwon McMillan's injury
#1 - Alec Ogletree, Chicago Bears
Alec Ogletree is a former All-Pro. He joined the NFL in 2013 and has since accumulated an impressive 631 tackles and 7.5 snaps. While an upgrade, in terms of experience, on Raekwon McMillan, he is naturally a few years ahead on the age curve.
He is currently on a reported US$ 1,075,000 salary, with none of it guaranteed. Hence, it has a lower hit for the New England Patriots than what it would have been for Raekwon McMillan.
#2 - Malcolm Smith, Cleveland Browns
Malcolm Smith, a former Super Bowl XLVIII winning MVP, brings stability to the position. He joined the NFL in 2011 and has since accrued 467 tackles and seven sacks. A veteran aged 32, he is reportedly on a 1 year contract worth US$ 1,212,500. While this cap hit is slightly larger than that of Raekwon McMillan, he brings an additional pedigree to the team.
#3 - Jordan Hicks, Arizona Cardinals
If an inside linebacker is truly what the New England Patriots want, and they have cap space to spare, then Jordan Hicks might be great value. He is reportedly unsettled after being told he will not be a starter.
He has already completed 522 tackles and 6.5 sacks since joining the NFL in 2015. He also won Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles. While the cap hit will be close to US$ 6,00,000, the guaranteed money is only US$ 2,00,000 with a waiver option in 2022.