The New England Patriots have rostered some of the greatest players in NFL history.
All-time greats like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, John Hannah and Adam Vinatieri made their names in New England and racked up Pro Bowl and All-Pro recognitions before ultimately becoming some of the best to ever play their respective positions.
There are also players like Julian Edelman, Tedy Bruschi, Devin McCourty and James White, whose contributions to the franchise outweigh anything they did to be recognized in a grander capacity than that of Super Bowl rings and being beloved by all of New England.
All of those players will go down in Patriots history as some of the best to ever don the uniform, which is why they don’t have a place on this list.
This list is reserved for the opposite. The following players all made their names outside of New England, and range from solid contributors to rival franchise players to league MVP’s and future Hall of Famers. What they happen to have in common, though, is that they spent random stints with the Patriots that you may not remember.
Ok, this one you definitely remember! That still doesn’t take away the absurdity that Newton, a former MVP and three-time Pro Bowler, signed on to be Brady’s replacement for the 2020 season. Did things go swimmingly? No, he went 7-9 with an admittedly spotty offensive unit and eventually lost his job to Mac Jones the following offseason. He did, however, handle his time with the Patriots about as well as anyone could in that situation and made himself a couple of fans along the way.
We started with the MVP, now let’s get to the Hall of Famer. After 15 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos, including nine Pro Bowl berths, Lynch requested and was granted his release from the Broncos in hopes of find playing time elsewhere. That’s when Bill Belichick rang, signing him to one-year deal. The then-37-year-old couldn’t cut the mustard, and was released following a two-week stint with the team.
There were few players more hated than James Harrison around New England. That was until he signed with the team and helped them reach a Super Bowl. The Patriots inked a 39-year-old Harrison to a contract with just one week remaining in the 2017 regular season and watched him play in four games through a Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He did record two sacks and a forced fumble with New England, but something tells us he’ll be better remembered being a five-time Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kenny Moore II
This entry is a bit different, as Moore eventually developed into a Pro Bowl-caliber player following his departure from the Patriots. Moore arrived to New England as an undrafted free agent, and served as one of its best cornerbacks throughout the offseason before being the final player released that offseason. The Indianapolis Colts claimed him one day later, before seeing him turn into a star over the next few seasons. The Patriots rarely allow cheap talent to leave their building without bleeding them dry of whatever value they enter with, but Moore was one who got away.
Washington was one of the best kickoff return men in the NFL in the late 2000s, making two Pro Bowls across seven seasons with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks. Then he signed with the Patriots and in 2013, returned one kick for 19 yards and was promptly released.
Everyone remembers Martellus Bennett’s pair of stints with the Patriots, as he helped them win Super Bowl LI in the absence of Gronkowski in 2016. Michael Bennett’s stint was much less eventful. The defensive lineman played in six games for the Patriots before being suspended and eventually traded by the team. The three-time Pro Bowler finished with one sack for New England.
Most people will remember Crumpler for his seven-season stint with the Atlanta Falcons, where he was one of Michael Vick’s top targets, making three Pro Bowls. Patriots fans, however, remember him as the wily veteran who sat in front of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez during their rookie season in 2010. A solid legacy.
This one is pretty unforgettable. After excelling for one of the Patriots’ fiercest rivals for years, former six-time Pro Bowler and legendary Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne signed with New England. The stint lasted all of 12 days before he asked for and was granted his release.
Taylor was actually a pretty good running back for New England. After spending 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the former Pro Bowler capped off his career with two seasons as a Patriot. He totaled four yards per carry for New England.
Now to a less solid running back. Jackson made three Pro Bowls across his first nine seasons with the St. Louis Rams, eventually settling in for a couple of seasons with the Falcons. He was out of football in 2015, until an unbelievably injured Patriots squad picked him up off the street for the final two games of the regular season. Across four total games, the Rams’ all-time leading rusher averaged 2.4 yards per carry with the Patriots. He never played football again.
Brown is one of the greatest wide receivers ever, making seven Pro Bowls and ranking top 25 in career receptions and yards, but his Patriots tenure only lasted 11 days, giving him only enough time to play in one contest. That game, a 43-0 Patriots victory, seemed to be his coming out party alongside Brady, with the wideout catching four passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Everything else surrounding those four hours was a complete and total disaster, as he was released following allegations of sexual assault.
The man simply known as Ochocinco was an enigma, but he was really good at football. Ochocinco, formerly known as Chad Johnson, made six Pro Bowls across 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before being traded to the Patriots in 2011. He was nothing if not disappointing in his lone season in New England, eventually being cut and finding himself out of the league.
Acquired the same offseason as Ochocinco, Haynesworth was a reclamation project for the Patriots. After playing in six games and getting into it with Patriots coach Pepper Johnson on the sideline, he was placed on waivers. Evidently, they could not reclaim the glory of the two-time Pro Bowler.
Yes, that Torry Holt had a stint with the Patriots. Much like Wayne and Lynch, Holt’s tenure with New England ended before it started, as he was placed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury during training camp in 2010. The former seven-time Pro Bowler re-signed with the Rams to retire as a member of their franchise one year later.