There have been 94 former players and coaches nominated into consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, including a handful of former Patriots. Players and coaches must be five seasons removed from the game (2011) to be eligible. The list will be cut down to 25 semifinalists in November and down to 15 finalists in January.
The 48-person Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee will review the 15 finalists and whittle the number down to five final nominees, in addition to the Senior Finalists (Kenny Easley) and the two Contributor Finalists (Jerry Jones, Paul Tagliabue).
Per the procedures on NFL.com, the finalists must receive 80% of the vote to determine which four-to-eight candidates will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
You can click here to check the full list. I’ve listed the 13 former Patriots below and the time they spent with the team. They have varying degrees of influence on the franchise.
QB Drew Bledsoe (1993-2001): The Patriots selected Bledsoe with the 1st overall pick in the 1993 draft. He is one of the people more responsible for keeping the Patriots in New England after revitalizing the franchise. Bledsoe played nine of his 14 years with the Patriots and ranks 10th all time in career passing yards. He reached four Pro Bowls, led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996, and came off the bench to secure the 2001 AFC Championship Game against the Steelers.
QB Doug Flutie (1987-89, 2005): Flutie had two stints with the Patriots three decades apart. While he contributions at the NFL level might not warrant individual consideration for the Hall, he’s regarded as the greatest player in the history of the Canadian Football League, winning three CFL Championships and earning the Most Outstanding Player Award six times. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
FB Larry Centers (2003): Centers played in the NFL for 14 seasons and managed to win a Super Bowl title with the Patriots before retiring. His 827 career receptions are the most for a running back in NFL history and ranked 7th all time in receptions upon his retirement.
WR Henry Ellard (1998): Ellard only played 5 of his 228 career games with the Patriots after joining the team partway through the season. He ranked 3rd in receiving yards upon his retirement, behind just Jerry Rice and James Lofton.
WR Torry Holt (2010*): Holt spent the 2010 offseason with the Patriots but suffered an injury and did not make the team. He retired with the 10th most receiving yards in NFL history, including seven-straight 1,000+ yard seasons as a part of the Greatest Show on Turf.
WR Chad Johnson (2011): Johnson, also known at Chad Ochocinco, spent the 2011 season with the Patriots en route to the Super Bowl. He is a 4-time First Team All Pro from his time as a star Bengals receiver.
NT Fred Smerlas (1991-92): Smerlas spent his final two seasons with the Patriots after playing 11 for the Bills and 1 for the 49ers. He was annually regarded as one of the best few nose tackles in the league during the 1980s.
LB Tedy Bruschi (1996-2008): Bruschi is considered the most influential defender on the Patriots dynasty and was named to the Second Team All Pro squads in 2003 and 2004. He was a part of the Patriots 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2007 Super Bowl runs. He registered 1,063 tackles, 30.5 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, 44 passes defended, and 12 interceptions.
ED Willie McGinest (1994-2005): McGinest was another core player during the rebirth of the Patriots. He collected 86 sacks over the course of his 15-year career as a pass rusher. He was a part of the Patriots 1996, 2001, 2003, and 2004 Super Bowl seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1996 and 2003.
S Rodney Harrison (2003-08): Harrison joined the Patriots after an in incredibly successful 9-year stint with the Chargers. Harrison made the First Team All Pro squad his first year with the Patriots and was Second Team All Pro in 2004. He won the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls. Harrison is a member of both the Chargers and Patriots 50th Anniversary Squads and is the founding member of the 30 sack/30 interception club.
CB Ty Law (1995-2004): Law was named First Team All Pro in 1998 and 2003 and was elected to the 2nd Team All 2000s Team. He spent 10 of his 15 seasons with the Patriots and is one of the greatest defensive backs in franchise history.
S John Lynch (2008*, finalist in 2016): Lynch spent less than three weeks with the Patriots in August of 2008, but head coach Bill Belichick apparently “called him every day” to convince him to join. Lynch was a 9-time Pro Bowler, 3-time First Team All Pro, and 1-time Second Team All Pro with the Buccaneers and Broncos.
K Nick Lowery (1978): Lowery was undrafted out of Dartmouth in 1978, but latched on the Patriots for his rookie season. He was out of football in 1979, but joined the Chiefs and was the most accurate kicker in NFL history for the bulk of his career.
A lot of these players have uphill battles to reach the Hall of Fame. I would say that Lynch and Holt have the best chances to be elected this year, with McGinest, Law, and Harrison reaching the semi-finals.