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Patriots release wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell

The New England Patriots continue to churn their receiver corps.

The team released Malcolm Mitchell on Monday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of the decision. The team later made the news official and he cleared waivers Tuesday to become a free agent, Rapoport reported.

Mitchell spent some time on the conditioning fields during training camp practices after undergoing a knee procedure last month. There was some hope over the weekend he could return after being seen at practice in pads -- he did not participate with the team. Alas, the injury-plagued receiver isn't healthy enough at this stage.

Mitchell's release has been weeks in the making. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported before the start of camp that the Patriots attempted to shop him in a trade. The knee issue made trading Mitchell a nonstarter.

The 26-year-old flashed as a fourth-round rookie in 2016, compiling four touchdowns on 32 receptions with 401 receiving yards. He was a key catalyst in the Patriots' epic come-from-behind Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons, earning six receptions for 70 yards.

Mitchell hasn't played a meaningful game since then. He missed all of the 2017 season with a knee injury.

Despite offseason optimism he was trending in the right direction, missing training camp with the lingering knee issue was the death knell for his Patriots future. Given that a team still searching for answers at receiver wasn't willing to wait out the latest knee issue isn't a good sign for his near future.

Mitchell's release comes after the Patriots added veteran receiver Eric Decker to its wideout corps. New England is still dealing with depth issues with Julian Edelman's looming four-game suspension, cutting Mitchell, releasing Jordan Matthews (hamstring) and Kenny Britt's lingering hamstring injury. The current depth chart includes Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner.

How the Patriots receiver corps shakes out remains to be seen as we press towards the preseason. It would be a very Belichickian move for New England to add yet another veteran before Week 1.

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