Best Patriots Players Of All-Time: Top 5 New England Legends, According To Experts

The New England Patriots are nearly unmatched on the NFL gridiron. For those who are unaware, New England is an area in the northeastern United States made up of six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Patriots play out of Foxboro, Massachusetts and have no shortage of legends capable of being one of the top five New England Patriots Players of All Time.

Founded in 1959, the New England Patriots joined the American Football League (AFL) as an original member in 1960. The team initially struggled, with intermittent success during their early years. They did reach the playoffs a few times, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that they began to establish themselves as a competitive force, even reaching Super Bowl XX, where they lost to the Chicago Bears.

The hiring of Bill Belichick as head coach in 2000 and the emergence of Tom Brady as the team’s starting quarterback marked the beginning of a dynasty for the Patriots. Over the next two decades, the pair led the team to six Super Bowl championships, nine AFC titles, and seventeen division titles. Their on-field success, strategic acumen, and ability to adapt to different game situations helped the Patriots dominate the NFL during this period.

Brady departed the Patriots after the 2019 season, leading to a period of transition for the team. The 2020 season marked the first time in 11 years that the Patriots missed the playoffs. New faces and changes in coaching staff marked a new phase in the franchise’s history. Despite the challenges, the organization’s commitment to excellence and strong foundation continue to keep the Patriots as a team to watch in the NFL.

With so many great players donning the iconic Patriots logo over the years, we sought out the consensus best Patriots players of all time. Looking at 10 different “expert” lists, here are the five most named New England legends. Disagree with the list? Let us know your favorite Pats Players in the comments below!

red and white football on white surface
red and white football on white surface Photo by Marko Tuđan on Unsplash

The List: Top 5 Patriots Players, According To Experts

1. Tom Brady

Was there ever really any question here? After all, for many, Tom Brady is considered the best quarterback — if not the best player overall — in NFL history. But let’s not go into that conversation, this is about best Patriots players ever, and this one was quite obvious. Pro Sports Outlook gushes, “The G.O.A.T, TB12, the man who never ages, Tom Brady has been the most dominant, and talented player to ever come into the NFL. From the 199th overall pick in 2000, to the greatest career in professional football history.”

Tom Brady as quarterback of the New England Patriots
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks to throw a pass against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 22, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Debby Wong on Shutterstock)

Clutch Points raves, “Obviously, he owns every major franchise passing record and will have his No. 12 jersey retired one day. The Michigan product was a sixth-round pick back in 2000 who took over for the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and never looked back. Brady and New England have won 218 regular season games and 30 playoff games since then.”

“Brady would be the team’s starting quarterback in nine Super Bowls, six of which the Pats prevailed. He was voted that game’s Most Valuable Player four times… In a Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles, he threw for a record 505 yards and three scores in a 41-33 setback. Of course, he also owns all the major postseason records in league annals and all while with New England,” according to Fansided.

2. John Hannah

John Hannah was a legacy player on the Patriots from 1973 until 1985. Hannah’s consistency in-game was so important to the Patriots that when he retired, he left an offensive hole in the lineup. B/R posits, “John Hannah is widely regarded as one of the best offensive linemen of all time. Not just in Patriots history, but in NFL history. Hannah is second only to Tom Brady in approximate value with the Patriots, and his 147 score is at least 31 points better than every non-GOAT to play for this franchise.”

Yard Barker agrees with the assessment, writing: “John Hannah is one of the greatest guards of all time. He’s the last guy you’d want coming at you as a pulling guard. I mean, just look at that picture. Does he look like a nice guy? Affectionately nicknamed Hog, he made nine Pro Bowls and paved the way for the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl appearance in 1985. He was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 1991.”

“[Hannah] was named to nine Pro Bowls, the most in team history, and seven All-Pro teams, also the most in team history. He made eight straight Pro Bowls from 1978-1985 and until fairly recently was the only player in the Hall of Fame who played exclusively for the Patriots.,” according to The Grueling Truth Where Legends Speak.

3. Andre Tippett

The football aphorism, “Defense wins championships” is especially appropriate when considering Andre Tippett. As a leader on defense, Tippett racked up an impressive set of stats. Patriots Wire states, “Tippett finished his career with 100 sacks and logged a career-high 18.5 sacks in 1984. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985. He is in the Patriots Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

“In the 1980s, two outside linebackers truly struck fear in opponents’ hearts: Lawrence Taylor and Andre Tippett. The latter posted 35 sacks over a two-year period (1984-85) and made the Pro Bowl five times,” writes NFL.

“Playing at linebacker, Tippett played his entire career with the Patriots. Seeing the field sparingly as a rookie, Tippett would settle in as New England’s starting left outside linebacker in 1983. From 1984 to 1988, he was a perennial Pro Bowl, and in ’85 and ’87, Tippett was a First Team All-Pro and the leader in Approximate Value. In either of those years, he could have easily won the Defensive Player of the Year,” adds Not In Hall Of Fame.  “A member of the 1980s All-Decade Team, Tippett would enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, nine years after he entered the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.”

4. Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski was considered a crucial partner for Tom Brady who helped lead the Pats to numerous victories. (Certainly, their second team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would attest to this statement too.) As a tight end, “Gronk” was a fan favorite thanks to his boisterous personality.

Sportster writes, “Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady complemented each other for many years, they understood each other perfectly and that is why they are the quarterback-pass catcher duo with the most touchdowns in the history of the NFL Playoffs. In a Patriots uniform, Gronkowski recorded 7,861 receiving yards and 80 touchdowns.”

“Rob Gronkowski, a.k.a “Gronk” is known for his signature celebration of spiking the ball in the endzone. Gronkowski was strong, fast, and had great hands, as he was always dangerous to defenses. One of the most unstoppable weapons ever, Gronk will go down as one of the best TEs ever,” opines Pro Sports Outlook.

“The 2014 Comeback Player of the Year won three Super Bowls with New England. He was ranked inside the top 25 on NFL Network’s Top 100 players series six times during his career. Aside from perhaps being the most physically dominant tight end in history, Gronkowski is second in receiving yards and first in receiving touchdowns in team history,” according to Clutch Points.

5. Mike Haynes

Mike Haynes was drafted in 1976. Though it takes some NFL players a few years to reach stardom, this Arizona State alum made a name for himself as a strong defender right away.

Fan Sided writes, “He was the fifth-overall pick in the 1976 draft from Arizona State University… Haynes would be named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons with the Pats and in six of his seven campaigns with the franchise. With New England, the opportunistic defender picked off 28 passes and recovered 11 opponent’s fumbles.”

“During a four-game stretch late in his first season, the 1976 No. 5 overall pick recorded seven interceptions and returned two punts for touchdowns—hence the Defensive Rookie of the Year honor. In all, he had eight picks and three fumbles recovered and was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie,” writes B/R.

“In seven seasons with the Patriots, Haynes made six Pro Bowls. The only year he didn’t was in 1981 when he only played eight games due to injury,” says The Grueling Truth Where Legends Speak. “Haynes was a true shutdown corner. He made the Pro Bowl in 1980 with just one interception, simply because teams knew better than to throw in his direction.”

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