Tom Brady has retired -- officially this time, people. And while there will be time for retrospectives on his career, I thought it would be a good opportunity to consider the many players he worked with over 22 years by assembling an All-Tom Brady Team, a starting lineup of the best of his teammates.
I tried to base this on the years these guys played with Brady, which eliminates Darrelle Revis (who spent just one season with Brady) and Richard Sherman (same), among others. And for the sake of this discussion, I considered 2000 (when Brady was not yet a starter) and 2008 (when Brady missed all but one game) as Brady years.
You would think this was pretty easy, but narrowing down his top teammates was actually a tough task.
Let's get started.
Running back: Corey Dillon
Brady years: 2004-06 on Patriots, 3,180 rushing yards, 37 rushing TDs
The Patriots had a lot of running backs who were good but not necessarily great in an Emmitt Smith-type of way. But Dillon's best year (2004) put him among the top backs in the NFL that season; he ranked third in rushing yards (1,635) and tied for sixth in rushing TDs (12), plus earned a Pro Bowl selection.
Running back: James White
Brady years: 2014-19 on Patriots, 1,119 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 2,809 receiving yards, 24 receiving TDs
I thought about adding a fullback like James Develin, but I wanted to go with one of the pass-catching backs who have excelled for the Patriots. White had 40-plus receptions in every season from 2015 to 2020, including 87 in 2018.
Receiver: Randy Moss
Brady years: 2007-2010 on Patriots, 259 receptions, 3,904 receiving yards, 50 receiving TDs
Moss was great in Minnesota for the first seven seasons of his career, let's make no mistake about that. But he was on another level with the New England Patriots, putting up his best season as a pro in 2007, when he set an NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions and earned both Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors. I mean, it's obvious. Moss is considered by many to be the best of all time, and his time in New England could be Exhibit A as to why.
Receiver: Julian Edelman
Brady years: 2009-2019 on Patriots, 599 receptions, 6,507 receiving yards, 36 receiving TDs
Picking a slot receiver between Edelman and Wes Welker was a tough call, but as I wrote about in this piece right here, I believe Julian is a Hall of Famer. If you're not falling for the click bait there, I'm not mad. The point is, he played his best in the big games -- just check out his playoff production (118 catches and 1,442 receiving yards, both second all time). I think that puts him in the category of guys like Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and Fred Biletnikoff.
Receiver: Mike Evans
Brady years: 2020-21 on Buccaneers, 144 receptions, 2,041 receiving yards, 27 receiving TDs
New England had a lot of great receivers during Brady's run, including guys like Deion Branch and Troy Brown. But I'm giving a nod to his Evans, his Tampa teammate, who had 27 touchdowns in two seasons playing with Brady, the second-most in that span in the NFL. He belongs on this list for sure.
Tight end: Rob Gronkowski
Brady years: 2010-2018 on Patriots and 2020-21 on Bucs, 621 receptions, 9,286 receiving yards, 92 receiving TDs
Hey, the only guy who played with Tom in both New England and Tampa Bay. This is a no-brainer. Gronk was a Hall of Fame performer just based on his time in New England, when he made five Pro Bowls and was a four-time first-team All-Pro. He put away any doubt by going on yet another Super Bowl run with Brady last season.
Offensive tackle: Matt Light
Brady years: 2001-2011 on Patriots
The former second-round pick played a long time (in New England years) with Brady. He was a part of three championship teams and earned a first-team All-Pro selection in 2007.
Guard: Logan Mankins
Brady years: 2005-2013 on Patriots
Like Brady, Mankins played the majority of his career in New England and his final two seasons in Tampa Bay -- although Mankins did it six years earlier. Mankins was a first-team All-Pro once for the Pats but was selected to the second team an incredible five times.
Center: David Andrews
Brady years: 2015-18 on Patriots (missed 2019 with health issues)
There is a feeling Andrews could go down as the best center in Patriots history. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion with the club, having contributed to Brady's last two titles with the team. Unfortunately, he missed Brady's final New England season with a blood clot in his lungs, but he returned in 2020, signed a four-year contract last March and started every game in 2021.
Guard: Shaq Mason
Brady years: 2015-19 on Patriots
Mason was drafted in the fourth round the same year Andrews arrived as an undrafted free agent (2015) and helped provide the foundation for the latter portion of Brady's run with the team. He, like Andrews, is still with the Patriots right now.
Offensive tackle: Tristan Wirfs
Brady years: 2020-21 on Buccaneers
Defensive end: Richard Seymour
Brady years: 2001-08 on Patriots, 359 tackles, 39 sacks, three forced fumbles, 36 tackles for loss
An absolute monster during those early years of the Patriots dynasty, Seymour was a part of the first three Super Bowl titles. Named first-team All-Pro three times and second-team twice, he's a modern-era finalist for entry to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
Defensive tackle: Vince Wilfork
Brady years: 2004-2014 on Patriots, 517 tackles, 16 sacks, four forced fumbles, 30 tackles for loss
Wilfork will always be defined by his amazing personality, but he was a pretty great football player, too. Part of two Patriots championships, he was named first-team All-Pro in 2012.
Defensive tackle: Ndamukong Suh
Brady years: 2020-21 on Buccaneers, 71 tackles, 12 sacks, one forced fumble, 16 tackles for loss
Suh had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, recording six sacks for the Bucs for the second consecutive year. It marked the first time since 2015, when he played with the Dolphins, that he finished with six or more sacks in a two-season stretch. He also was a key cog of the Bucs' defense as they captured the title in Super Bowl LV.
Defensive end: Chandler Jones
Brady years: 2012-15 on Patriots, 211 tackles, 36 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 38 tackles for loss
I might be playing fast and loose here, because Jones has played his best football since being traded to the Cardinals. But he was still pretty great in New England, recording double-digit sacks in two of his four seasons.
Outside linebacker: Willie McGinest
Brady years: 2000-05 on Patriots, 332 tackles, 37.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, 34 tackles for loss
I will always associate Willie with those great early-dynasty Patriots, like a member of a Hall of Fame band who played on their best albums (like Izzy Stradlin on Guns N' Roses for instance). He's also the NFL record-holder for most postseason sacks (16).
Inside linebacker: Jerod Mayo
Brady years: 2008-2015 on Patriots, 800 tackles, 11 sacks, eight forced fumbles, three interceptions, 30 tackles for loss
The Patriots have had so many great linebackers over the years, it's really hard to narrow this down. And I'm sure this will cause some debate. But Mayo played his entire career in New England, and it was a significant chunk of time. It's hard to imagine spending eight years with Brady and winning just one ring. Just one.
Outside linebacker: Devin White
Brady years: 2020-21 on Buccaneers, 268 tackles, 12.5 sacks, one forced fumble, 23 tackles for loss
You know, the Buccaneers posed an interesting problem here, too. Because Lavonte David also deserves some consideration on this list. I almost added a fourth linebacker to make room for him, but that would be cheating. I'm going with White. I might be influenced heavily by his Super Bowl performance, but I won't apologize.
Cornerback: Ty Law
Brady years: 2000-04 on Patriots, 321 tackles, 16 interceptions, 55 passes defensed
Law was a three-time Super Bowl champion. Led the NFL in passes defensed in 2003 (23). And most recently was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming one of the few (so far) from this Patriots dynasty to receive a gold jacket.
Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore
Brady years: 2017-19 on Patriots, 148 tackles, 10 interceptions, 49 passes defensed
He obviously played really well for the Bills to start his career, but he really reached his stride with the Patriots, where he garnered his two first-team All-Pro selections. He also was the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, when he helped win Super Bowl LIII.
Free safety: Devin McCourty
Brady years: 2010-19 on Patriots, 739 tackles, three sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 26 interceptions, 87 passes defensed
A three-time Super Bowl champion, McCourty was a huge part of those Patriots defenses in the later Brady years, eventually joining with his brother Jason McCourty (who was on the Patriots from 2018 to 2020) to form a pretty imposing duo in the defensive backfield. Devin was a three-time second-team All-Pro.
Strong safety: Rodney Harrison
Brady years: 2003-08 on Patriots, 426 tackles, nine sacks, seven forced fumbles, eight interceptions, 32 passes defensed
I won't be the guy who points out that, had Harrison knocked the ball off David Tyree's helmet in Super Bowl XLII, we'd be talking about a perfect season for Brady in 2007. But I won't do that because Harrison was so good for the Patriots in the early years.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
Brady years: 2000-05 on Patriots
This was tough, because Stephen Gostkowski scored more points in a Patriots uniform (1,775 from 2006 to 2019) than Vinatieri did during his time with Brady (689). But Vinatieri made some of the biggest kicks in Patriots (and Brady) history, and it's impossible to leave him off this team.
Punter: Ryan Allen
Brady years: 2013-2018 on Patriots
Allen, a free agent, beat out my guy Zoltan Mesko to take over as the team's punter in 2013. Like Mesko, Allen was a left-footed punter, which is a hallmark of the Patriots under Bill Belichick. Allen booted the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles.
Special teamer: Matthew Slater
Brady years: 2008-2019 on Patriots
I thought about using this extra special teams slot to sneak in a player like Troy Brown, but Slater deserves this nod. A fifth-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2008, he helped secure three Super Bowl titles as a special teams ace.