When Super Bowl 50 kicks off in four days, the New England Patriots will have to watch from at home. Still, the organization is represented well at the game, given that four former Patriot players have a chance to earn their first Super Bowl rings when the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers.
The AFC representatives have one former member of the Patriots in their ranks: cornerback Aqib Talib. The 29-year old entered the league as a first-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008 but was traded to New England midway through the 2012 season. He played one-and-a-half years in Foxboro, re-establishing himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the league, before leaving for Denver as an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season.
Talib is the only former Patriot on the Broncos; the Panthers have three former New Englanders in their ranks: defensive tackle Kyle Love and cornerback Robert McClain are both on the active roster, while cornerback Ras-I Dowling is currently a member of Carolina's practice squad.
The 29-year old Love joined the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2009 and spent three seasons with the team. After he was released due to health issues, Love bounced around the league before signing with the Panthers in December 2014. He has appeared in 17 games this season and is an important member of Carolina's defensive tackle rotation.
While Love appeared in 47 games with New England, registering 5.5 sacks, Robert McClain never played a competitive game for the team. He joined the Patriots in March 2015 to fight in the cornerback-competition but was unable to earn a roster spot. After the Patriots released the 27-year old during the second wave of roster cuts, the free agent McClain signed with the Panthers in December. He has since played in five games as a nickel corner.
Ras-I Dowling, on the other hand, has not yet appeared in a game since joining Carolina in November. The cornerback, who was selected by the Patriots in the second-round of the 2011 draft, played only nine games in his two years with the franchise – ending both seasons on injured reserve. Due to his inability to stay healthy, the Patriots released Dowling in August 2013; he joined the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders before getting signed to the Panthers' practice squad last November.