Patriots

Top 50 NFL players: Where Patriots' Stephon GIlmore ranks on Pro Football Focus' list

Top 50 NFL players: Where Patriots' Stephon GIlmore ranks on Pro Football Focus' list

The New England Patriots roster has undergone quite a transition this offseason due to several key players leaving Foxboro, with longtime quarterback Tom Brady being the most notable departure.

There's no question free agency hit the Patriots hard, especially on defense, but there are still plenty of talented players left on the team's roster. The best player might just be cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who won last season's AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

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Pro Football Focus has been unveiling its top 50 NFL players ranking over the last few days. Spots 50 through 12 have been revealed (as of this writing), and the only Patriots player who's made the cut is Gilmore. PFF ranked him as the 12th-best player in the league, just ahead of Houston Texans defensive end J.J.Watt (No. 13), San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 14) and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (No. 15).

Gilmore signed a huge free agent contract with the Patriots after the 2016 season and he's lived up to the deal in every way.

He's earned back-to-back first-team All-Pro selections, in addition to being the only cornerback to earn an "elite" grade from Pro Football Focus in 2018. Gilmore played very well in the Patriots' win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, including an interception in the fourth quarter that led to the game-clinching field goal. 

The veteran cornerback followed up his 2018 performance with an even better 2019 season. Gilmore led the league with 20 passes defensed and tied for the lead with six interceptions last year. His exceptional play was among the primary reasons why the Patriots pass defense ranked among the league's best in 2019.

The Patriots have brought back most of their secondary entering the 2020 season, and Gilmore is without question the best and most important player in that group.

Patriots' place in new 2020 NFL Power Rankings might surprise you

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Patriots fans may bristle at Chris Jones' reaction to Chiefs extension

Did the 2001 New England Patriots believe they were launching a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XXXVI? Probably not.

But the defending Super Bowl champions appear a bit more confident.

Days after signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes to the richest contract in North American sports, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract extension with defensive tackle Chris Jones, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.

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So, how did Jones celebrate his new deal with Kansas City? By declaring an apparent continuation of the Chiefs' "dynasty."

Jones has every reason to be confident in his team, which kept its core intact after winning Super Bowl LIV and is the current Super Bowl LV favorite.

But Patriots fans who watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady lead New England to six championships over two decades might view Jones' "dynasty" talk as premature.

After all, no team has won back-to-back titles since the Patriots in 2003 and 2004, and no team aside from New England and Seattle (2013 and 2014) has even reached the Super Bowl in back-to-back years since 2000.

And after signing Cam Newton, the Patriots may believe their own dynasty isn't dead yet despite Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

History won't stop Jones and the Chiefs from setting lofty goals, however, as Mahomes said recently he's eyeing Brady's record of six Super Bowl titles. Better get started soon.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Hypocrisy for Patriots fans to root for Tom Brady, but not Cam Newton

Hypocrisy for Patriots fans to root for Tom Brady, but not Cam Newton

If you rooted for Tom Brady and don’t root for Cam Newton, you are a hypocrite. 

In 2014, the Patriots started the season 2-2 and after a humiliating loss on Monday Night Football in Kansas City, some idiot — that would be me — declared that the Pats had lost their soul.

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Of course, I was wrong, as the greatest quarterback ever went on to the lead the Pats to their fourth Super Bowl win with a big assist from Malcolm Butler. 

That was Part 2 of the "Tom Brady: Me Against the World" trilogy.

Of course, the original was getting drafted as a sixth-round pick out of Michigan. Part 3 was Deflategate when Brady won his fifth Super Bowl after he was suspended for four games.

For the purpose of this writing, we focus on Part 2 because some thought Brady’s best days were behind him. (Many feel the same about Cam Newton now.) Even Bill Belichick said Tom was getting older and the plans for his successor in Jimmy Garoppolo were laid out before us ... and Brady.  

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

But once again, Brady defied the odds and forced Belichick to trade Jimmy G. to San Francisco. Needing to prove he still had "it," Brady reinvented himself and became a physical specimen, defying Father Time.

Can Cam Newton do the same? He is not as old now as Brady was then, but this guy was left for dead by the rest of the NFL and has even more to prove than Brady ever did.

If you backed Tom Brady, how can you not do the same for Cam?

Look, I love Tom Brady the football player. Off the field, I think he’s lost his mind, but there has been no better player in the history of sports than TB12. (See Tom, I used your logo. Happy?)

However, right now I am in Cam’s corner like I was in Brady’s when he was a Patriot. And you should be too.