FOXBORO -- When the Patriots announced their captains for 2017 this week there were plenty of familair names: Tom Brady, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Rob Gronkowski, Dont'a Hightower.
The team had a couple more named on Tuesday, though: safety Duron Harmon and center David Andrews.
The Patriots use a democratic system to vote in their captains, so that Harmon and Andrews got the nod from their teammates is a sign of the respect they've earned as two of the youngest leaders in the locker room.
Harmon arrived to the Patriots in 2013 draft as a third-round pick out of Rutgers and has turned himself into a valuable member of the New England secondary as its oft-used third safety. In a defensive scheme that frequently deploys three-safety packages, Harmon has played a shade over 50 percent of his team's snaps (including playoffs) in each of the last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. One indication of his importance to the Patriots on and off the field? He signed a four-year deal with a maximum value of $20 million to remain with the team in the offseason.
Andrews also signed a new deal with the Patriots before this season, getting a three-year extension from the club with a maximum value of $11 million. The team's starting center arrived to New England as an undrafted rookie out of Georgia in 2015 and earned his first 11 NFL starts in his first season while incumbent starting center Bryan Stork dealt with injury. Andrews won the starting job outright last season and was as durable as any lineman, playing 99.7 percent of the snaps en route to a Super Bowl title.
Brady is a 16-time captain, while McCourty and Slater will be captains for the seventh consecutive season. Gronkowski and Hightower will serve as captains for the second time.