Patriots 2016 draft pick retires at age 25, will be remembered for key role in Super Bowl LI win over Falcons

Former Patriots wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has decided to call it quits after playing just two seasons in the NFL. The 25-year-old made the announcement during an event at the University Of Georgia on Friday. 

Although Mitchell didn't play in the NFL for long, Patriots fans will likely remember him forever due to the fact that he was arguably New England's most unsung hero during the team's improbable 34-28 win over Atlanta in Super Bowl LI. 

If not for Mitchell, the Patriots likely wouldn't have been able to come back from the 28-3 deficit they were facing late in the third quarter. Not only did Mitchell catch six passes for 70 yards in the game, but five of those catches came in the fourth quarter during crunch time when the Patriots needed him most. 

Mitchell's biggest catch of the game came just over seven minutes left to play. With Patriots trailing 28-12 and facing a third-and-11, Tom Brady found Mitchell for a 12-yard gain that kept the drive alive. Two plays later, the Patriots would score a touchdown and a two-point conversion that trimmed the Falcons' lead to 28-20. 

The final catch of Mitchell's career was an 11-yard gain with just 2:34 left to play in the Super Bowl. Four plays after that, the Patriots scored a touchdown and two-point conversion that ended up tying the game at 28. After the Patriots' Super Bowl win, the receiver only played in one more preseason game for New England before being cut in August 2018. He spent the entire 2017 season on injured reserve due to an ongoing issue with his knee. 

After sitting out the 2018 season, Mitchell had hoped to return in 2019. The receiver told ESPN.com in January that he was rehabbing his knee with hopes of making a comeback after undergoing the 10th surgery of his football career. 

"I'm still motivated. I'm still encouraged," Mitchell said at the time. "I'm recovering -- the last surgery totaled out to be No. 10, and it takes a little while to come back from it, but I am working my way back. And I'll be back."

Mitchell might not be coming back, but fortunately, he does have a career to fall back on. The former UGA star is a children's author who published his first book in 2015

Although Mitchell had plenty of talent, the 2016 fourth-round pick battled injuries his entire career and was never really himself after his rookie season. Mitchell finished his rookie year with 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns, numbers that will now go down as his career totals. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories