All-Time Teams: New England Patriots



Introduction

In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.


1. Each team roster will consist of the following:

Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C

Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner

Coach - 1 Head Coach


2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.


3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.


4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.


5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.


6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!


New England Patriots All-Time Team


Franchise Information

First Season: 1960

  1. Boston Patriots (1960-1970)

  2. New England Patriots (1971-Present)

Record: 529-411-9 (56.28 W-L%)

Playoff Record: 37-22

Super Bowls Won: 6 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018) (Lost in 1985, 1996, 2007, 2011 and 2017)

AFL Championships Won: 0 (Lost in 1963)

Passing Leader: Tom Brady 6,377/9,988 | 74,571 Yds | 541 TD

Rushing Leader: Sam Cunningham 1,385 Att | 5,453 Yds | 43 TD

Receiving Leader: Stanley Morgan 534 Rec | 10,352 Yds | 67 TD

Sack Leader: Andre Tippett 100 Sk

Interception Leader: Ty Law and Raymond Clayborn 36 Int

Scoring Leader: Stephon Gostkowski 1,775 Points

Winningest Coach: Bill Belichick 254-99


QB: Tom Brady (2000-2019)

Record: 219-64 | 63.8 Cmp% | 74,571 Yds | 541 TD | 179 Int | 1,037 Rush Yds | 22 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 2007 (68.9%) | Led League in Yds 2005, 2007 and 2017 (4,110, 4,806, 4,577) | Led League in TD 2002, 2007, 2010 and 2015 (28, 50, 36, 36) | Led League in Yds/A 2007 (8.3) | Led League in Yds/G 2007 and 2017 (300.4, 286.1) | Led League in Rate 2007 and 2010 (117.2, 111) | 14x Pro-Bowl (01, 04, 05, 07, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19) | 3x All-Pro (07, 10, 17) | 2007, 2010 and 2017 MVP | 2007 and 2010 Offensive Player of the Year | 2007 Bert Bell | 2009 Comeback Player of the Year | 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018 Super Bowl Champion | 2007, 2011 and 2017 AFC Champion | Hall of Fame All-2000s Team | Hall of Fame All-2010s Team


There isn't anything that I can say about Tom Brady that hasn't already been said. He's the GOAT, plain and simple. Brady spent 20 seasons in New England and had a winning record in all 20. Only once did Brady win less than 10 games, coming in 2002 when the Patriots went 9-7. Brady guided the Patriots to 17 playoff appearances, 13 AFC Championship Game appearances, nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl Championships. Brady holds every passing record in playoff history by a mile and is currently the all-time record holder in completions, yards and touchdowns in NFL history. He led the league in completion percentage once, yards three times, touchdowns four times, yards per attempt once, yards per game twice and quarterback rating twice as well. Brady was voted to 14 Pro-Bowls in a Patriots uniform, 14! He was also named to the All-Pro Team three times, the MVP three times and the Offensive Player of the Year twice. Brady has already been named to the Hall of Fame All-2000s and All-2010s Team and will undoubtably be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He's redefined the limits of father time and just led the league in yards and touchdowns in Tampa Bay at the age of 44. I don't see anyone ever taking down any of his records.


Honorable Mention

  1. Babe Parilli (1961-1967) | Record: 44-32-7 | 47.2 Cmp% | 16,747 Yds | 132 TD | 138 Int | 949 Rush Yds | 14 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1961 (52.5%) | Led League in Yds 1964 (3,465) | Led League in TD 1964 (31) | Led League in Yds/G 1964 (247.5) | 3x Pro-Bowl (63, 64, 66) | 1x All-Pro (64) | 1963 AFL Championship Appearance

  2. Jim Plunkett (1971-1975) | Record: 23-38 | 48.5 Cmp% | 9,932 Yds | 62 TD | 87 Int | 817 Rush Yds | 9 Rush TD

  3. Steve Grogan (1975-1990) | Record: 75-60 | 52.3 Cmp% | 26,886 Yds | 182 TD | 208 Int | 2,176 Rush Yds | 35 Rush TD | Led League in TD 1979 (28) | Led League in Yds/A 1980 (8.1) | 1985 AFC Champion

  4. Tony Eason (1983-1989) | Record: 28-21 | 58.4 Cmp% | 10,732 Yds | 60 TD | 48 Int | 474 Rush Yds | 6 Rush TD | 1985 AFC Champion

  5. Drew Bledsoe (1993-2001) | Record: 63-69 | 56.3 Cmp% | 29,657 Yds | 166 TD | 138 Int | 553 Rush Yds | 2 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp 1994 and 1996 (400, 373) | Led League in Yds 1994 (4,555) | Led League in Yds/G 1994 (284.7) | 3x Pro-Bowl (94, 96, 97) | 1996 AFC Champion


RB: Jim Nance (1965-1970)

4.0 Yds/A | 5,323 Yds | 65 TD | 129 Rec | 844 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1966 and 1967 (1,458, 1,216) | Led League in TD 1966 (11) | Led League in Yds/G 1966 and 1967 (104.1, 86.9) | Led League in YScm 1966 (1,561) | 2x Pro-Bowl (66, 67) | 2x All-Pro (66, 67) | 1966 AFL MVP


Jim Nance is first up for the Patriots at running back. Nance had a short but dominant career. He led the league in rushing yards twice, touchdowns once, yards per game twice and yards from scrimmage once as well. Nance was voted to two Pro-Bowls and two All-Pro Teams and was even named the 1966 AFL MVP. He was the first great running back in Patriot's history and is still maybe the greatest back the franchise has ever had.


RB: Sam Cunningham (1973-1982)

3.9 Yds/A | 5,453 Yds | 43 TD | 210 Rec | 1,905 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (78)


The other starting running back is the franchise leader in rushing yards, Sam "Bam" Cunningham. Cunningham still holds the franchise record in yards even after some 40+ seasons. He was voted to his lone Pro-Bowl in 1978. It's surprising how thin the Patriots are at running back. Curtis Martin is maybe the best they ever had, but he only spent three years in New England and is best known for his years with the Jets. Corey Dillon and LeGarrette Blount had a great couple seasons with the team as well.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Larry Garron (1960-1968) | 3.9 Yds/A | 2,981 Yds | 14 TD | 185 Rec | 2,502 Rec Yds | 26 Rec TD | 4x Pro-Bowl (61, 63, 64, 47)

  2. Dan Calhoun (1975-1981) | 4.1 Yds/A | 3,391 Yds | 23 TD | 82 Rec | 614 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/A 1976 (5.6)

  3. Mosi Tatupu (1978-1990) | 3.9 Yds/A | 2,415 Yds | 18 TD | 96 Rec | 843 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | Led League in Yds/A 1983 (5.5)

  4. Tony Collins (1981-1987) | 3.9 Yds/A | 4,647 Yds | 32 TD | 261 Rec | 2,356 Rec Yds | 12 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (83)

  5. Craig James (1984-1988) | 4.2 Yds/A | 2,469 Yds | 11 TD | 81 Rec | 819 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (85)

  6. John Stephens (1988-1992) | 3.6 Yds/A | 3,249 Yds | 17 TD | 100 Rec | 781 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (88) | 1988 Offensive Rookie of the Year

  7. Curtis Martin (1995-1997) | 4.0 Yds/A | 3,799 Yds | 32 TD | 117 Rec | 890 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (95, 96) | 1995 Offensive Rookie of the Year | Hall of Fame Class 2012

  8. Kevin Faulk (1999-2011) | 4.2 Yds/A | 3,607 Yds | 16 TD | 431 Rec | 3,701 Rec Yds | 15 Rec TD

  9. Corey Dillon (2004-2006) | 4.2 Yds/A | 3,180 Yds | 37 TD | 52 Rec | 431 Rec Yds | 2 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (04)

  10. LeGarrette Blount (2013-2016) | 4.3 Yds/A | 2,917 Yds | 34 TD | 19 Rec | 137 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in TD 2016 (18)


WR: Stanley Morgan (1977-1989)

534 Rec | 10,352 Yds | 67 TD | Led League in Yds/Rec 1979, 1980 and 1981 (22.8, 22, 23.4) | Led League in TD 1979 (12) | 4x Pro-Bowl (79, 80, 86, 87)


First up at wide receiver is the most prolific receiver in franchise history, Stanley Morgan. Morgan holds the franchise record in yards and touchdowns. He spent 13 seasons in New England and had at least 1,000 yards in three of them. Morgan also led the league in yards per reception three different times and touchdowns once. He was named to the Pro-Bowl in 1979, 1980, 1986 and 1987.


WR: Wes Welker (2007-2012)

672 Rec | 7,459 Yds | 37 TD | Led League in Rec 2007, 2009 and 2011 (112, 123, 122) | 5x Pro-Bowl (08, 09, 10, 11, 12) | 2x All-Pro (09, 11)


Next up is the great Wes Welker. Welker may be the best slot receiver in the history of the NFL. Standing at only five feet nine inches, Welker exceeded all expectations during his stellar career. He had at least 111 receptions in five of his six seasons in New England, including leading the league in receptions in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Welker was voted to five straight Pro-Bowls from 2008-2012 and the All-Pro Team in 2009 and 2011. He's a Hall of Famer in my book.


WR: Gino Cappelletti (1960-1970)

292 Rec | 4,589 Yds | 42 TD | 5x Pro-Bowl (61, 63, 64, 65, 66) | 1964 AFL MVP

We're going back all the way to the very beginning of the franchise for the final starting receiver. Gino Cappelletti was a member of the Patriots for their first 11 seasons and was their first star. He exceled as both a receiver and kicker and was named to five Pro-Bowls. Cappelletti's best season came in 1964 when he was named the AFL MVP. New England has had a few other good receivers in their history, including Irving Fryar, Troy Brown and Julian Edelman, but it's hard for me to put any of them over Morgan, Welker or Cappelletti.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Jim Colclough (1960-1968) | 283 Rec | 5,001 Yds | 39 TD | Led League in Yds/Rec 1962 (21.7) | 1x Pro-Bowl (62)

  2. Irving Fryar (1984-1992) | 363 Rec | 5,726 Yds | 38 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (85)

  3. Troy Brown (1993-2007) | 557 Rec | 6,366 Yds | 31 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (01)

  4. Terry Glenn (1996-2001) | 329 Rec | 4,669 Yds | 22 TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (99)

  5. Randy Moss (2007-2010) | 259 Rec | 3,904 Yds | 50 TD | Led League in TD 2007 and 2009 (23, 13) | 1x Pro-Bowl (07) | 1x All-Pro (07) | 2007 Comeback Player of the Year | Hall of Fame All-2000s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2018

  6. Matthew Slater (2008-Present) | 10x Pro-Bowl (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21) | 2x All-Pro (16, 19) *

  7. Julian Edelman (2009-2020) | 620 Rec | 6,822 Yds | 36 TD

* Matthew Slater's accolades are as a special team's player.


TE: Rob Gronkowski (2010-2018)