Earlier on Wednesday, the New England Patriots released their Team of the Decade — a squad featuring no real surprises, but a total of 27 players who played integral roles in helping the organization win three Super Bowls and every single AFC East title between the 2010 and 2019 seasons. With that in mind, there are still a few players who are equally deserving of recognition if only for the fact that they too played some high-quality football over the last 10 years and helped make the team into champions time and again.
With that said, let’s dive into this.
RB LeGarrette Blount
James White made the All-Decade Team as the lone running back, and he certainly deserves the honor based on his tremendous play since entering the running back rotation in 2015. Blount also played an important role during his time in New England, though, and was the lead early-down back on two of the team’s Super Bowl-winning squads. All in all, he appeared in a combined 57 regular season and playoff games for the Patriots between the 2013 and 2016 seasons and rushed for a total of 3,387 yards and 42 touchdowns.
G Shaq Mason
Logan Mankins and Joe Thuney are deserving of their spots on the All-2010s team: Mankins making the NFL’s Team of Decade earlier this offseason tells you all you need to know about him, while Thuney is as reliable a player as any in the league. If the voters had stuck to true positioning, however, only one of the men could have filled the left guard spot — leaving the other to Shaq Mason. One of the best run blockers in football since joining the Patriots in 2015, Mason started 82 games for the Patriots including two Super Bowl victories.
OT Marcus Cannon
Sebastian Vollmer served as the Patriots’ number one right tackle over the first half of the decade, while Marcus Cannon took over as the undisputed starter in 2016. Both men are deserving of recognition, which is why Cannon is listed here as a worthy alternative to Vollmer, who made the Team of the 2010s: since arriving in New England in 2011, Cannon started 80 games (versus the 82 Vollmer started in this decade) and was a mainstay on two Super Bowl-winning offensive lines.
DT Alan Branch
There is little debate that Vince Wilfork and Lawrence Guy deserve to make the Team of the Decade, but a third defensive tackle also had a big impact on the Patriots in the 2010s: Alan Branch. Signed as a free agent in 2014, he went on to appear in a combined 60 regular season and playoff games for New England — earning two Super Bowl rings along the way. In one of those title games, he even made one of the biggest defensive plays: Branch jumped onto a contest-changing fumble forced by Dont’a Hightower during the Patriots’ comeback against the Atlanta Falcons.
LB Jamie Collins Sr.
With Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy taking the off-the-ball linebacker spots on the All-Decade team, there was no room for Jamie Collins. That said, he was certainly impressive during his 4.5 seasons with the Patriots. Including Super Bowl 49, the former second-round draft pick appeared in 74 games for the organization and posted some impressive numbers — from his 10 combined interceptions to his 13 forced fumbles and 20.5 sacks.
S Duron Harmon
Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung made the All-2010s team, but Duron Harmon also was a deserving candidate — not just because he established a reputation as “The Closer” due to his knack for the big play. Harmon also served as the number three safety behind McCourty and Chung ever since his arrival in New England in 2013. In that role, he was a reliable rotational member of the Patriots’ secondary and appeared in 111 regular season games and 17 playoff contests. He also was a part of all three of the team’s championship squads during the decade.
LS Joe Cardona
The All-Decade team does not feature the long snapper position, although Rob Ninkovich has shown that he could fill it in an emergency situation. Still, if a pure long snapper had made it Cardona would have been the candidate (over Danny Aiken): the Navy product has never missed a game since coming to New England in 2015, and was a reliable member of the Patriots’ kicking game operation — one that appeared in 92 games during the 2010s and won two Super Bowls.
Knowing the Patriots’ Team of the Decade — please click here if you haven’t seen it yet — plus our seven alternatives, who else do you think would have been deserving of the honor? Let us know in the comments!