He will miss the remainder of the season.
Colvin, who suffered the injury in the second quarter of last week's win in Philadelphia, was placed on injured reserve, meaning he is not eligible to return this season.
One of the league's top pass rushers, Colvin led the Chicago Bears with 10 1/2 sacks in each of the top two seasons. He was expected to be a key cog in New England's revamped 3-4 defense.
The loss of Colvin is another major blow for the Patriots' defense, which is down to just four healthy linebackers.