New England Patriots: Chase Winovich entering a pivotal year

Dec 29, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots defensive lineman Chase Winovich (15) on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Florida Gators in the 2018 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots defensive lineman Chase Winovich (15) on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Florida Gators in the 2018 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

This is a pivotal year for New England Patriots linebacker Chase Winovich, but unfortunately, he has missed much of the 2021 offseason due to injury. He needs to emerge as a top pass rusher in 2021.

Winovich was a third-round pick of the Patriots in the 2019 draft. He was a very popular pick. He impressed on the edge in 2019 with five and a half sacks in his rookie year.

Winovich was highly touted for success with the New England Patriots after that impressive first season and expected to pick up the slack when Dont’a Hightower opted out last season.

Of course, this was an unprecedented year due to Covid-19. It impacted everyone in the world and, of course, NFL, as well.

The pressure is on New England Patriots Chase Winovich

Disappointingly, Winovich’s play leveled off in 2020. He finished 2020 with the same sack total as in 2019, five and a half.

He did increase his total tackles, quarterback hits, and tackles for loss, however. But it’s the sacks that the New England Patriots needed and they didn’t get nearly enough of them in 2020.

He certainly didn’t exhibit that notable big second-year leap that Head Coach Bill Belichick is always talking about.

Now, this is Winovich’s third year with the team. Next season, Winovich can be a restricted free agent.

It’s definitely showtime for Chase. Although he is a fan favorite, his 2020 performance disappointed even his staunchest fans. They expected far more.

This year, he has begun much of the offseason with some type of injury (possibly hand or wrist?) and missed mini-camp and the beginning of summer camp.

Thankfully, he’s now back on the field. But is the clock ticking on Winovich’s time with the New England Patriots? The short answer is, it may very well be.

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Rumors abounded in June that Pittsburgh may be in the market for the Michigan product’s services. The injury probably put the kibosh on that idea.

The New England Patriots after free agency and the draft have significant depth at the position Winovich plays, the edge. Yet, they are significantly lacking in a few others. A trade could make sense.

The major offseason moves at the edge should be very troubling to Chase. That’s why it’s imperative for him to perform, possibly beginning on Thursday night in Philadelphia if he’s active.

The Patriots got back Dont’a Hightower, brought in Matt Judon, brought back the versatile Kyle Van Noy, and drafted Ronnie Perkins in the third round. (They also have promising Josh Uche.)

That’s 3 top veterans and a promising rookie added to the position. These moves can’t have made Winovich feel very comfortable with his situation, at all.

The veterans, if they all actually play on the edge, would all be ahead of Winovich on the depth chart.

Also, Perkins is a pass-rushing specialist who shined at Oklahoma last season. He’s a threat to take Winovich’s spot and he’s not going anywhere.

Winovich’s strength has always been his boundless energy and his ability to relentlessly pressure the quarterback.

Yet, the New England Patriots need sacks as well as hits and pressures.

To date, Winovich hasn’t delivered enough of them. So, where does that leave him with about three weeks to go before the final roster cutdown date to 53 players on August 31st?

It’s possibly in trouble. If Winovich fails to impress over the next two weeks there would be several options for the team.

The best-case scenario for the player himself as an experienced third-year player would be to make the 53-man roster if he’s healthy.

Another option, if he’s a deemed roster-worthy player but not yet fully healthy, would be to place him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, and possibly bring him back later on.

However, if the Patriots see enough from Perkins and the other edge players, they could seek to trade him to plug another hole on the depth chart.

Lastly, another possible outcome could be that he would be cut on the final roster cut-down date and become a free agent.

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This would appear on the surface to be the least likely option. He’s seemingly just too good a player to be thrown out the door for no value.

Winovich needs to show the Patriots he’s ready to take the next step. And he may have to do so in the next two weeks. Otherwise, he may be on the outside looking in.

So, that’s a brief analysis of the roster situation of New England Patriots third-year linebacker, Chase Winovich, a personal favorite.

What do you think will happen with Winovich at cutdown time on August 31? We’d like to hear your views.