New England Patriots Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

There have been many great dynasties in the history of the NFL, but perhaps none greater than the New England Patriots of the 2000s and 2010s. Between 2000 and 2019, Bill Belichick’s teams went to nine Super Bowls, winning six of them. They did so while churning out Pro Bowlers, All-Pro players, and Hall of Famers.

Of course, the Patriots had plenty of good seasons before the 21st century, going to two Super Bowls before Belichick got there. So while many of the greatest to ever suit up for the franchise have played in recent years, there are still a handful of stars that helped build the foundation of what New England would become.

We have a feeling you already know who will be No. 1 on this list, but there might be some surprising names along the way. Let’s check out our list of the 10 greatest New England Patriots players of all time.

10. Drew Bledsoe, quarterback

Without Drew Bledsoe, there is no Tom Brady. That’s quite literally since it was Bledsoe’s injury that cleared room for Brady to begin his Hall of Fame career. But Bledsoe was also a pretty successful Patriots quarterback in his own right. The first overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, Bledsoe was the face of the franchise in the 1990s. He led the Pats to the playoffs four times, won the AFC East twice, and took them to Super Bowl XXXI. Finishing his NFL career with 44,611 passing yards and 251 passing touchdowns, he was named to three Pro Bowls and led the NFL in passing yards in 1994. If not for the guy who followed him, he’d be considered the best quarterback in Patriots history.

9. Irving Fryar, wide receiver

Irving Fryar spent the first half of his long NFL career with the New England Patriots. For eight years, Fryar and Stanley Morgan led the Patriots’ wide receivers core in the 1980s and 90s. He ended his NFL career with 851 receptions for 12,785 yards and 84 receiving touchdowns (88 total). He also garnered 242 rushing yards, 2,055 punt return yards, 505 kickoff return yards, and 7 fumble return yards, good for 15,594 all-purpose yards. Along with being named second-team All-Pro twice and invited to five Pro Bowls, he was named to the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team in 2009. Unfortunately, off-field incidents overshadowed his football career.

Tom Brady and Wes Welker
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 4: (L-R) Wes Welker #83, Benjamin Watson #84, and Tom Brady #12. Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

8. Wes Welker, wide receiver

Wes Welker wasn’t the fastest or biggest guy on the field, but he was always one of the best. The undrafted Texas Tech product started his NFL career as a kick returner for the Miami Dolphins but arrived in New England in 2007 and developed into a great wideout. He led the NFL in receptions in 2007, 2009, and 2011, averaging 112 receptions and over 1200 yards per season.  Welker is the Patriots’ all-time leader in receptions (672), receptions per game (7.2), and receiving yards per game (80.2) and has the four highest single-season reception totals in Patriots’ history, which is shocking given he only played for the Patriots for six seasons. Welker made the Pro Bowl, the All-Pro Team, or both, in every season of his Patriots career. The only thing he didn’t accomplish with the Patriots was winning a Super Bowl, though he appeared in two.

7. Mike Haynes, cornerback

Mike Haynes might be more remembered as a Raider but he started his career with New England, playing seven seasons with the franchise. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1976 and, during a four-game stretch, recorded seven interceptions and returned two punts for touchdowns. By the time he left the Patriots, he’d already racked up 28 interceptions, 1,159 yards on 111 returns, and a 10.4-yard average. While he moved on to Los Angeles in 1983, Haynes ended up as a nine-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro, and six-time second-team All-Pro. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Rob Gronkowski
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) warms up before the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

6. Rob Gronkowski, tight end

In the discussion for the greatest tight ends in the history of the NFL, Rob Gronkowski has to be a big part of it. Gronk became Tom Brady’s go-to guy during their Super Bowl run. In nine seasons with the Patriots, he won three Super Bowls, was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, was a four-time First Team All-Pro selection, and was selected in the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. The first tight end to lead the league in receiving touchdowns (17 in 2011), he also still holds the Patriots franchise record for receiving touchdowns (79). After tacking on another Super Bowl championship in Tampa, Gronk cemented his future place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

5. Ty Law, cornerback

It could be a toss-up for the best defensive back in Patriots history between Haynes and Ty Law. Law certainly had the benefit of playing for some of the best teams in New England history. During his 10 seasons with the Patriots, Law was the cornerstone of some of Bill Belichick’s best defenses. A three-time Super Bowl winner, Law got four Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro honors as well. In 2003, he was credited with 23 pass breakups to lead the league and had his greatest game in the 2003 AFC Championship where he intercepted Peyton Manning three times. He is 24th all-time in NFL career interceptions and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

4. Andre Tippett, linebacker

The New England Patriots weren’t good for much of the time Andre Tippett played for them but it certainly wasn’t his fault. Tippett was the anchor of some of their best defenses in the 1980s and early 1990s, and if not for Lawrence Taylor might have been considered the best linebacker of his day. In 1984 and 1985, the Iowa product racked up 18.5 and 16.5 sacks, respectively. He finished his NFL career, all of which was spent with New England, with 100 sacks and 19 fumble recoveries in 151 games. A five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Tippett is a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Randy Moss
Randy Moss #81 of the New England Patriots reacts as he walks by Anthony Smith #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

3. Randy Moss, wide receiver

Randy Moss may have not been with the Patriots a long time, but some of his most productive years were with New England. In 2007, the Hall of Famer recorded 23 touchdowns and nearly 1500 yards receiving while helping lead the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. Moss was in a Patriots uniform for three and a half years and topped 1,000 yards receiving and double-digit touchdowns in each of the three full seasons. Over his 14 season NFL career, Moss broke myriad league records, but he made a huge impact in a short amount of time with New England. Good enough to be named to the New England Patriots All-2000s Team and New England Patriots All-Dynasty Team.

2. John Hannah, offensive lineman

Arguably the greatest offensive lineman in the history of the sport, John Hannah first established himself in college at Alabama before joining the Patriots in 1973. An absolute anchor on New England’s offensive line from then until 1985, he was a large part of how successful their running game was during that time. Over the course of his career, the Patriots’ running game averaged over four yards per rush, which was closer to five yards per carry in 1976. Hannah garnered nine Pro Bowl and seven first-team All-Pro selections, was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999. His No. 73 has been retired and he’s rightfully a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, too.

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

1. Tom Brady, quarterback

What can you say about Tom Brady that hasn’t already been said about the future Hall of Famer? Seven-time Super Bowl champion, six with the Patriots, three-time NFL MVP, and arguably the greatest NFL player of all time. A backup quarterback with the Patriots in 2000, he seized his opportunity and turned the franchise into a Super Bowl champion and never looked back.

Over the course of 18 seasons as New England’s starter, Brady led the team to 17 division titles, 13 AFC Championship Games, nine Super Bowls, and six championships, all NFL records. Among his numerous accolades are NFL records for most career passing yards, completions, touchdown passes, and games started. He’s also the only NFL quarterback ever to be named to two all-decade teams (2000s and 2010s). Already a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, the big one will come calling in a few years.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.