When New Englanders last saw Terrance Mitchell, he was punching the ball out of Damien Harris’s hands at the goal line in Houston last season.
Now he’s punching a clock in New England.
The cornerback was among the first players the Patriots signed when free agency opened. Mitchell, 29, was a starter each of the last two seasons. In 2020, he had 13 pass breakups and 3 forced fumbles for the Browns, and last season he posted 10 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception for the Texans.
Mitchell had Patriots ties in his last two spots, with Eliot Wolf the assistant general manager in Cleveland and Nick Caserio the GM in Houston. Mitchell said he talked with Wolf during free agency.
Now he’s hoping to seize a starting job with the Patriots, and he’s counting on his varied experiences across the NFL (five previous stops).
“I’m like an encyclopedia now,” Mitchell said Thursday. “I’ve got just a whole bunch of [knowledge]. It’s all good. It’s definitely helpful. [There’s] different terminology [in different] places, but it definitely helps. A little bit here, a little bit there. You’re like, ‘Yeah, I remember that.’ So, it’s cool.”
Asked about digging into the Patriots playbook, Mitchell said it was like being “at the toy store and getting a whole bunch of toys. It’s fun.”
“Man, when you think about as a kid, NBA, you’ve got Phil Jackson, the Lakers, the Celtics, the Bulls,” he said. “And when you think about NFL dynasties, [the] Patriots, man — there’s no other. I think every kid growing up in this era, seeing the Patriots and being able to play for them, it’s just crazy. So, that’s self-explanatory right there, man. The Pats — that’s the team, for real.”
The cornerback competition this summer is poised to be fierce in Foxborough as the Patriots look to replenish a group that lost, among others, Pro Bowlers J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore in the last year.
New England returns two starters at the position, Jalen Mills (boundary) and Jonathan Jones (slot), and there’s no shortage of candidates to earn starter and subpackage snaps.
The Patriots brought back Malcolm Butler, have Shaun Wade, Myles Bryant, and Joejuan Williams already on the roster, and drafted Jack Jones and Marcus Jones. Devin Hafford was signed as an undrafted rookie.
“I’m enjoying it out here in the great land of New England,” Mitchell said. “Just all the history behind it. [Being among] the 13 colonies — I remember that stuff from elementary school.’’
Whatever it takes
Former University of Miami quarterback D’Eriq King, who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie, told Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson that he’ll be used in multiple positions in a bid to make the team. “I’m excited, it’s good,” he said. “I was a little nervous because of the unknown, but I was blessed enough to sign with a team like the Patriots. I talked to [director of player personnel] Matt Groh, and he was very excited. I’m thankful for the opportunity. He told me I’ll do a little bit of everything — receiver, quarterback, running back — whatever I can do to stick. Definitely to prove my worth.” … Linebacker Terez Hall was released. Hall spent the 2021 season on the reserve/PUP list and playing in eight games (four starts) in 2020 … Mac Jones finished fifth on the NFLPA’s annual top 50 player sales list, which reports sales of all officially licensed NFL player products. Tom Brady finished first for a record fifth time, and nine of the top 10 were quarterbacks, with 49ers tight end George Kittle (No. 8) the exception …
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy, whom the Patriots released following last season, signed with the Chargers.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.