Phil Perry

Patriots add ‘tough as hell' linebacker in Sione Takitaki

It didn't take long for New England to find its Mack Wilson replacement.

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The Patriots watched linebacker Mack Wilson come to an agreement with the Cardinals on Monday afternoon. But they had a replacement ready to go soon thereafter, and he's believed to be a snug fit in New England's defense.

Sione Takitaki is signing a one-year deal with the club, per his agent Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports. The 6-foot-1, 238-pounder had 57 total tackles last year in 15 games.

According to one of his former coaches with the Browns, he fits the profile as a Patriots 'backer.

"Huge fan," the coach texted. "Similar to Mack. Heavy-handed. Can play on the line and off the ball. Good zone dropper. Very good blitzer. Fits the profile. Tough as hell. Leader by example."

Takitaki will help round out a linebacker room that includes Ja'Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai and will be coached by first-year inside linebackers coach Dont'a Hightower.

Takitaki will be reunited with de facto general manager Eliot Wolf in Foxboro. Wolf was the Browns assistant general manager to John Dorsey in 2018 when Takitaki was drafted in the third round at No. 80 overall, and Wolf scouted him personally.

"Really physical, exciting player," Wolf told reporters in 2018 following the Takitaki selection. "Plays super hard every play. Can run. Can cover. He can blitz. Played defensive end last year so he has some pass-rush to him. We're really excited and fortunate to get him with this pick... 

"This is a physical, physical football player. He plays with violence. We felt like that was something that kind of separated him from some of the other linebackers in this class. We feel really good about the value here and his ability to contribute to the team."

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