The Patriots are releasing wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, their 2016 fourth-round pick, reports CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. The news comes days after the team placed Jordan Matthews on injured reserve and signed veteran Eric Decker to replace him.
Mitchell, who played in 14 games as a rookie and had 32 receptions for 401 yards and 4 touchdowns, missed the 2017 season with a knee injury.
In the days leading up to training camp, the Patriots were reportedly trying to trade Mitchell though nothing materialized. And now, two weeks later, the team will move on, leaving behind a still-crowded depth chart at the position.
Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Decker, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt and Riley McCarron are all vying for snaps, and Julian Edelman will return after serving a four-game suspension to start the season.
Decker, who managed just 54 catches for 563 yards and a lone touchdown last season in Tennessee, could be primed for a big year. The Patriots wanted to draft him in 2010 but were beaten to the punch by the Broncos, who were coached at the time by Josh McDaniels, now New England's offensive coordinator. For an idea how Decker has previously played while catching passes from a Hall of Famer, in 2012 and 2013, he averaged 86 receptions for 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns with Peyton Manning under center. In 2011, with Tim Tebow, Decker managed just 44 catches for 612 yards and 8 scores.
Meanwhile, the highlight of Mitchell's brief stint in New England has to be his performance in Super Bowl LI. He had six catches for 70 yards -- including five catches for 63 yards in the second half -- to help the Patriots overcome a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to defeat the Falcons in overtime.