Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell gets a new deal . . . with Scholastic Books

Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell gets a new deal . . . with Scholastic Books

Second-year Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell already had a children's book published before he was drafted last year. Now he has a three-book deal with children's book publisher Scholastic. 

The three books will include a newly-illustrated edition of his self-published first crack at the children's book genre, "The Magician Hat," according to the Associated Press. That will come out in May of next year and be followed up by two more original works. 

Mitchell has been a children's literacy advocate since before joining the Patriots. That he joined a reading club -- made up mostly of women twice his age or more -- was quickly seized upon by multiple media outlets in the build-up to last year's draft as one of the feel-good stories in that year's class of prospects. 

Mitchell has founded a youth literacy initiative called Read With Malcolm, and he's the Patriots "Summer Reading Ambassador," encouraging young students to read as much as possible during the summer months. He hosted reading rallies across New England that began in Roxbury, Mass. back in March and finished up last week at The Hall at Patriot Place.

Taking a closer look at Patriots linebacker options after Harris signing

Taking a closer look at Patriots linebacker options after Harris signing

While it remains to be seen how exactly David Harris will fit into Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defensive scheme, he is a known commodity in terms of his instincts and football IQ. 

Will those traits be enough to earn him a key role immediately? And with whom will he be competing for time alongside Dont'a Hightower? 

Let's have a look at what the Patriots have at the linebacker spot now that Harris is in the mix.

Dont'a Hightower, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds: The signal-caller for the Patriots defense and a first-time captain last season, Hightower opted to re-sign with the team as an unrestricted free agent for a deal worth $35.5 million over four years. Hightower is an every-down player who is critical to the team's ability to stop the run. He's also improved significantly in coverage over the course of his career to the point where he's one of the best at his position at limiting yards after the catch. And when he's asked to rush the passer, he's among the game's most efficient in that regard. His strip-sack of Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI was the turning point in New England's improbable comeback win. 

David Harris, 6-foot-2, 250 pounds: Among the former Jet's best qualities is his durability, as he has missed just one regular-season game (it came in 2016) in the last eight seasons. The 33-year-old's percentage of snaps played between 2009 and 2015 reads as follows, according to Pro Football Focus: 94.8 percent, 97.0, 93.2, 99.4, 99.8, 99.4, 92.2. Harris possesses the size the Patriots often look for in their middle linebackers, and he has experience serving as the primary communicator for a defense, which Belichick and Patricia would likely value. In 2014, Harris tied his career-high in sacks with 5.5. Per PFF he was fifth among linebackers last season in terms of yards allowed per coverage snap (0.73). 

Elandon Roberts, 6-feet, 235 pounds: Going into his second year out of the University of Houston, Roberts made eye-opening plays as a rookie in the running game, using his strength and anticipation to occasionally overpower linemen. With a full NFL offseason under his belt, Roberts would land in the category of second-year players who could make a "leap" headed into 2017. He played 35 percent of defensive snaps for the Patriots last year. 

Kyle Van Noy, 6-foot-3, 243 pounds: Van Noy's relatively unique combination of size and athleticism makes him another versatile piece for Belichick and Patricia. After arriving to the Patriots via trade mid-season last year, he was frequently used in coverage in the middle of the field and deployed as a blitzer. He had 34 tackles in 10 games with the Patriots (including playoffs) and recorded a half-sack in the Super Bowl. 

Shea McClellin, 6-foot-3, 250 pounds: After Hightower and Jamie Collins, it was Shea McClellin who played more snaps in 2016 than any other Patriots linebacker (382). A versatile option, McClellin was spotted often playing opposite Rob Ninkovich as an end-of-the-line pass-rusher during OTAs and minicamp this spring. He has experience playing off-the-line as well, but seemed to be more of a fill-in option in that role last season. 

Jonathan Freeny, 6-foot-2, 255 pounds: Freeny saw 453 defensive snaps in 2015, which was more than any other Patriots linebacker after Hightower and Collins. He spent most of 2016 on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, but returned to participate in practices this spring -- albeit while wearing a red non-contact jersey. An experienced special-teamer, Freeny could be one of the team's top linebackers in the kicking game if healthy. He signed a two-year extension with the Patriots last August. 

Harvey Langi, 6-foot-2, 252 pounds: The Patriots signed Langi to an undrafted free agent deal that reportedly guaranteed him $115,000 -- more money than any other undrafted rookie in this year's class. He played both as an edge defender and off the line at BYU and may need to prove to the team that he has value in the kicking game in order to make the roster. Fellow undrafted rookie 'backer Brooks Ellis and 2016 practice-squadder Trevor Bates seem to fall into a similar category. 

Patriots reportedly sign former Jets LB David Harris to two-year pact

Patriots reportedly sign former Jets LB David Harris to two-year pact

There weren't many spots on the Patriots roster that needed an upgrade before Wednesday. One could have made the argument, though, that there were question marks at linebacker.

The Patriots took a step toward answering any uncertainty at that spot by signing former Jets 'backer David Harris, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Harris, 33, was released earlier this month as the Jets made moves to get some salary-cap relief. He played more snaps (900) than any other Jets defender in 2016 not named Darrelle Revis and finished the season with one sack, one quarterback hit and 11 quarterback hurries, per Pro Football Focus. 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has long admired the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder for his durability and his ability to communicate with teammates, serving as a link between the Jets secondary and its defensive line. He played in 15 games last season, which was the first time he missed a regular-season game since 2008.

"I have a lot of respect for David Harris," Belichick said back in 2014. "That guy is, first of all, he never comes of the field. Not [just] this year, but any year. The guy is like a 98, 99 percent playtime player for them every year, year after year.

"It’s obviously as defense that has a lot of communication and adjustments and he’s certainly at the center of that, both as the signal caller and then at the line of scrimmage you can see him adjusting the front or making some type of communication calls to his teammates.

"He’s a very instinctive player, which unfortunately we’ve seen that firsthand. He does a good job for them. He’s been very consistent, durable, dependable, productive over a long period of time . . . He’s out there in every situation: third-and-inches or third-and-40. You’re going to find him out there doing something. He’s a big, explosive guy. [He] can rush, can cover, good run player and instinctive. He knows where the ball is so that accounts for a lot of his production."

The Patriots have a handful of players who will now compete for time alongside last year's captain and recently re-signed linebacker Dont'a Hightower in Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin and Jonathan Freeny. Undrafted rookies Harvey Langi and Brooks Ellis were added this offseason to give the linebacker room some depth.