Foxborough, MA– In the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Malcolm Mitchell, a shorter wide receiver from the University of Georgia who proved he could operate with versatility as a deep threat and in the slot. Mitchell impressed head coach Bill Belichick so much during the pre-season and in training camp that the rookie wideout was named among the Patriots starters for the first game of the season, alongside Julian Edelman.
As a rookie, Mitchell hauled in 32 receptions for just over four hundred yards and four touchdowns. He then went on to be an integral part of the Patriots' march towards a fifth franchise championship in Super Bowl LI when they came back from a 28-3 deficit to the Atlanta Falcons to prevail in overtime, 34-28. In the Super Bowl, Mitchell had six receptions for 70 yards, including four crucial first downs during the fourth quarter comeback of the game.
It seemed like Mitchell was poised to be a favorite target of Tom Brady's in the seasons to come, but he missed his entire sophomore campaign with a knee injury and was forced to watch the Patriots fall to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII from the sidelines.
With no clear timetable for his return after a knee procedure, the Patriots waived Mitchell from the team last August. This March, Mitchell officially announced his retirement from football at the young age of 26.
Mitchell revealed that he had over ten knee surgeries since his injury and that the risk compared to rejoining the league was not worthwhile compared to the potential reward. Taking his doctor's advice to avoid playing again and avoid arthritis as a result, Mitchell retired, though it was not how he would have liked to end his career.
However, Mitchell did acknowledge that having Super Bowl LI as a final game was a special way to go out as a Patriot. For his next venture, he aims to pursue passions like photography, fashion design, and writing children's literature. He said he was thankful for his time with New England when he was healthy. Wish we could have seen him reach his full potential, and wishing him all the best in his retirement.