After losing Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson during the legal tampering period, the New England Patriots bolstered the position by signing two veterans: Terrance Mitchell and Malcolm Butler. Whereas Butler is a former Patriots starter (and Super Bowl hero), Mitchell is a new addition to the organization altogether.
While not as big a name as Butler or other cornerbacks on the free agency market, the 29-year-old does have plenty of starting experience. He also offers some solid durability as a look at his injury history shows.
2015 (Bears): Mitchell’s first reported encounter with an NFL team’s medical staff happened during his second training camp in the league. A member of the Chicago Bears at that point, he was evaluated for a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit. Mitchell was cleared.
Later that season, the sophomore defender suffered a hamstring injury. Playing on special teams during the Bears’ mid-October contest in Kansas City, Mitchell was listed as questionable to return. He never did and in fact would not play again until mid-December. The injury was only partially to blame for that, though.
2016 (Cowboys): Now with the Dallas Cowboys, Mitchell left an OTA practice in early June after hurting his left pinky finger. The injury was not significant, but the team still released him a few days later.
2017 (Chiefs): Another practice injury happened the following season. Mitchell injured his hamstring during an August training camp session with the Kansas City Chiefs. He missed three preseason games due to the ailment, but was removed from the injury list ahead of the regular season opener in New England.
2018 (Browns): Mitchell’s first major injury occurred in late September 2018. In the second quarter of Cleveland’s game versus the Oakland Raiders, he broke his wrist while defending a pass intended for wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Mitchell was carted to the locker room and quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game; he spent more than two months on injured reserve and was not activated again until early December.
2020 (Browns): Mitchell’s status heading into the Browns’ playoff opener against Pittsburgh was in question after he tested positive for Covid-19. However, the test turned out to be a false-positive: Mitchell made the trip and ended up playing 100 percent of defensive snaps.
2021 (Texans): His second game as a member of the Texans ended with Mitchell suffering a concussion. He was forced to miss the following week’s game against Carolina as well, but made his return in early October.
Mitchell spent 10 days on the Coronavirus reserve list in early December. He missed two games as a result.
What it means for the Patriots
As can be seen, Mitchell’s injury history is a relatively short one. With the exception of his broken wrist suffered in 2018, he has never had to deal with any major injury or season-ending ailment.
New England therefore invested in a player who has proven himself capable of handling the physicality of the NFL game. While that alone will not earn him a spot on the roster — neither will the structure of his one-year contract — it could prove valuable in the grand scheme of things: you can never have enough cornerbacks, something the Patriots found out first-hand in 2021.