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Meet the Newest New England Patriot: Mitchell Wilcox



Cincinnati Bengals tight end Mitchell Wilcox (84) carries the ball during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Emilee Chinn)

While much of the New England Patriots focus remains on this week’s NFL Draft, the team did take time to add a veteran player to the roster yesterday. The team signed tight end Mitchell Wilcox.

Mitchell Wilcox

The Cincinnati Bengals signed Wilcox as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft. He played college football for the South Florida Bulls. He was teammates there with former Patriots linebacker Eric Lee. Cincinnati cut Wilcox as part of their final moves before the 2020 season. He signed with their practice squad in November and spent the rest of his first NFL season there.

After not being active for any games as a rookie, Wilcox appeared in 15 regular season games and all four Bengals postseason games in 2021. He was part of the AFC Championship team that lost Super Bowl 56 to the Los Angeles Rams 23-20. His role expanded the following season. Wilcox went from 84 offensive snaps to 498. He caught 17 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown (up from three receptions for 16 yards the previous year).

Wilcox appeared in all 17 Bengals games last season, though his offensive snaps were cut significantly to 230. He finished with nine receptions for 56 yards on the season.

Over his three seasons on the active roster, Wilcox played in 48 games. He recorded 29 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown. His primary contributions have come as a blocking tight end and on special teams. He played 69% of Cincinnati’s special teams plays in 2023.

Pro Football Focus graded Mitchell Wilcox as less than 60.0 (the lowest score for a roster-caliber player) in all three seasons. His receiving and run-blocking grades are both poor. However, pass blocking seems to be where Wilcox shines most. He received a 74.0 there in 2023.

Patriots Tight Ends

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Wilcox joins a tight end group in New England featuring Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, and La’Michael Pettway. Henry returns as the primary tight end, in addition to being a team captain. Hooper was signed in free agency to replace Mike Gesicki as a receiving option at the position. Pettway was signed to the practice squad last season and has yet to make his NFL debut.

Mitchell Wilcox gives the New England Patriots a replacement for Pharaoh Brown, who signed with Seattle in free agency. He is a block-first tight end who won’t be counted on to contribute much as a receiver. He allows New England to avoid being desperate for a tight end in the upcoming draft or expecting too much from Pettway. That said, the addition of Wilcox would not stop the Patriots from adding to the position if there is value on the board. A prototypical low-risk, depth signing to bolster the overall roster.