FOXBORO, Mass. — One of the prevailing storylines during the leadup to New England Patriots training camp has been the team’s reported desire to trade wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
As expected, Patriots coach Bill Belichick had little to say about the matter during his pre-camp news conference.
“I’m not really going to engage in media speculation, unless you have some professional comment on that, which I haven’t seen,” Belichick said Wednesday morning. “I certainly haven’t talked to any media person about Malcolm Mitchell, so you’d have to talk to whoever that is.”
NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero was the first to report Monday that Mitchell was on the trade block. One day later, his NFL Media colleague Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots are “poised to move on” from the 25-year-old wideout, who missed all of last season with a knee injury that has yet to fully heal.
Belichick declined to give a status update on Mitchell, who reportedly underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week, saying it’s difficult to judge the health of injured players during the dead period between organized team activities and training camp.
Mitchell was not among the several Patriots players placed on the physically unable to perform or non-football injury lists ahead of camp, but Belichick noted that does not necessarily indicate a player is fully healthy.
“We’ll place some players on PUP and NFI lists, and when they’re ready to come off, they’ll come off,” the coach explained. “And the other players that aren’t on those, that doesn’t mean that they’re full availability. It means that they’re not on those lists for one reason or another and that we’ll do certain things with them based on their physical availability. That’s the way it always is this time of year. There are a lot of guys in different stages — from postseason surgeries, from offseason injuries and so forth — and we’ll just have to see where everybody is.”
By Belichick’s estimation, between 10 and 15 Patriots players are dealing with some sort of ailment heading into the team’s first camp practice Thursday.
Mitchell, who caught 48 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie in 2016, has not played in a meaningful game since Super Bowl LI. He was placed on injured reserve after injuring his knee in a preseason game last summer, and although he was able to return to practice late in the season, he never made it back to the active roster.
While the exact nature of Mitchell’s injury has not been disclosed, Belichick said he’s been pleased with the third-year pro’s rehabilitation efforts.
“I think all of our players work hard,” Belichick said. “We have a good training staff. We have a good medical staff. I think all of our players have been accountable and have done the rehabilitation that either us, them or some third party have been involved in. I don’t think we’ve had a guy in a long time that hasn’t been compliant or diligent with that, trying to do what he can do to get on the field. Some things respond at different rates than others.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images