It sounds like Bill Belichick caught wind of the latest news reports on Malcolm Mitchell. And he is none too pleased about them.
Whether he was miffed about fielding the questions in the first place, furious that someone within the Patriots leaking information about a player, annoyed by his previous interaction with Dan Shaughnessy over Malcolm Butler, whatever it was … Belichick had as little patience as ever for answering questions when it came to the oft-injured Mitchell.
Asked about Mitchell and his injured knee, which is at the very least affecting his availability for the start of training camp, Belichick launched into a long explanation about the complicated nature of having several different players with different injuries to deal with during the season. He may have hoped that would be good enough, but a reporter then asked if there were any truth to reports that the Patriots were seeking a trade partner for Mitchell. That’s when Belichick went back up another level.
“Yeah, I’m not really going to engage in media speculation, unless you have some professional comment on that, which I haven’t seen any,” Belichick said. “I certainly haven’t talked to any media person about Malcolm Mitchell, so you’d have to talk to whoever that is.”
Obviously, Belichick wasn’t going to throw Mitchell under the bus.
“I think all of our players have been accountable and have done the rehabilitation that either us, them or some third party has been involved in,” he added. “We haven’t had a guy in a long time that hasn’t been compliant or diligent with that of trying to do what he can do to get on the field. Some things respond at different rates than others.”
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network first reported that the Patriots had Mitchell on the trade block. Following that was a flurry of reports on a knee procedure that the receiver underwent ahead of the start of training camp. Mitchell’s continued knee issues reportedly have his 2018 season – and his Patriots career – in doubt.
But Belichick apparently wasn’t happy to see any of that becoming public. If it’s not true that he was shopping Mitchell for a trade, he certainly can’t be happy about anyone in the organization telling Pelissero otherwise. Perhaps the coach felt it would’ve been a bad look around the league if he was trying to trade a receiver who was coming out of a fresh knee procedure at the time.
The Patriots have yet to make any kind of move with Mitchell, be it a trade, or a move to the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, or something similar. The Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy reported on Monday at 6:40 p.m. that the Patriots are expected to make a “determination” on Mitchell’s future within the next 24-48 hours. If that’s accurate, then there could be a move coming within a couple hours of this writing.
But, as Belichick put it his own way, maybe that’s just media conjecture. The trade rumors, especially, are worthy of some pushback from the coach if there’s no truth to it. There’s just no denying, at this point, that Mitchell’s knee has been a serious issue and it’s affecting his ability to stay on the field for the Patriots. And no direct quote from Belichick should be needed to deliver that kind of speculation.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.