New England Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell showed plenty of promise during his 2016 rookie campaign. Playing as a rotational third/fourth option at wide receiver, the fourth-round draft pick contributed a combined 39 catches for 476 yards and four touchdowns to the team’s championship run. However, since New England’s Super Bowl 51 victory, it has been a rocky road for Mitchell.
The Georgia product dealt with knee issues throughout the 2017 offseason and was ultimately placed on injured reserve a mere hours before New England’s regular season opener. Eligible to be activated off the reserve list, Mitchell was designated one of the team’s two return players in late December. While he re-joined practice, however, he was never actually promoted to the active 53-man roster.
After Mitchell spent virtually all of last season on the sidelines, the Patriots opted to take a relatively cautious approach this offseason: The 24-year old saw only limited action during organized team activities and minicamp and never participated in any full-team drills. The goal, obviously, was to get him ready for training camp while limiting the risk of another injury. Now, however, it seems as if the plans might have changed.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the team is looking for trade partners for Mitchell:
The #Patriots have been seeking a potential trade partner for WR Malcolm Mitchell, per sources. Flashed talent with 32 catches in 2016 but injuries have been frustrating. May be odd man out in New England, even with Julian Edelman’s suspension.
While Mitchell’s work ethic and willingness to fight his way back has never been in question, his inability to stay healthy certainly seems to turn into a red flag – one the team might be ready to move on now. It does, after all, have a crowded wide receiver even though there are only two real roster locks in Chris Hogan and the above-mentioned Edelman, who will start the first quarter of the season suspended.
Ultimately, though, it will all come down to supply and demand: If a team is willing to give New England what it wants for Mitchell, a trade will take place. What the asking price could be is up in the air but considering his injury history anything other than a depth player or late-round draft pick would be a surprise.
Update: Per ProJo’s Mark Daniels, “Mitchell isn’t expected to be on the field to start training camp,” because “he had a procedure on his knee today, according to a source. His season looks to be in jeopardy.”
Per The Herald’s Kevin Duffy, the goal of the procedure was “to determine the extent and cause of discomfort in his knee, per source. Patriots are expected to make a determination on Mitchell’s future in next 24-48 hours.”