The 2021 NFL draft saw the New England Patriots make eight selections. A ninth has since arrived ahead of the preseason finale.
Wade, 22, was selected in the fifth round as the calendar turned to May. The Ohio State product faced an uphill climb to make a deep Baltimore depth chart occupied by Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith from there. He intercepted the lone pass sent his direction as a Raven this August while primarily playing on the boundary through 26 coverage snaps tracked by Pro Football Focus.
In exchange, Baltimore will receive a seventh-round pick in 2022 and a fifth-round pick in 2023 from New England, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic detailed.
The move addresses a long-term and short-term area of interest for the Patriots. Stephon Gilmore remains on the physically unable to perform list while working back from surgery to repair a partially torn quadriceps and is due a $7 million base salary. In addition to the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, fellow starting corner J.C. Jackson is on track to become a free agent next spring after signing his $3.384 million restricted tender.
Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams, Myles Bryant, Justin Bethel, D’Angelo Ross, Dee Virgin and Michael Jackson Sr. also reside in the room. As does veteran nickelback Jonathan Jones, who has managed ailments over the past week of training camp.
Wade totaled 31 tackles while leading Ohio State with three interceptions as a redshirt freshman in 2018. As a slot-to-safety starter the following campaign, he went on to have a hand in 26 tackles, two sacks and one pick. Draft momentum had been built by the time Wade, of prototype size at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, returned to Columbus last fall.
The redshirt junior and team captain became an Associated Press first-team All-American and the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. But abdominal surgery, turf toe and struggles transitioning to an outside role dropped his stock. Wade finished the year having notched 35 tackles and two interceptions, including one returned 35 yards for a touchdown. Receivers notched seven touchdowns through his eight matchups, however, headlined by Alabama Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith’s record-setting national championship performance in tandem with eventual Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.
Wade ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds at his rescheduled April pro day, where he leaped for a 37.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-3 broad jump before falling to Baltimore. No. 160 overall now falls to New England instead of being subject to waivers.
His four-year rookie contract begins with a $660,000 base salary that rises to $825,000, $940,000 and $1.055 million up through 2024, per OverTheCap.com.
The Patriots close out the preseason with a 6 p.m. ET kickoff Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants. Active rosters around the NFL are set to reduce from 80 to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.