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From Tom Brady to Brendan Daly: The Patriots connections within Super Bowl LV

A glimpse through the former Patriots, both on the field and on the sidelines.

Kansas City Chiefs v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The 53-man rosters. The practice squads. The reserve lists. The coaching staffs. The front offices.

Former members of the New England Patriots can be found within each branch heading into Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.

For the NFC champion, the familiarity is seen on the field. For the AFC champion, it’s more so seen on the sideline. And just how familiar varies from days to decades.

But here are the past Patriots in the fold for Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Raymond James Stadium.


Tom Brady, quarterback – The 10th Super Bowl appearance comes at age 43 for Brady, who completed 7,402 passes for 85,959 yards and 614 touchdowns between his regular seasons and postseasons alongside head coach Bill Belichick in New England. “I had two incredible decades there,” Brady told reporters this week. “My football journey took me to a different place, and I certainly could have never accomplished the things in my career without his support and his teachings.” Pick No. 199 overall in the 2000 NFL draft has gone on to toss 47 touchdowns through 19 starts for Tampa Bay after signing a two-year contract worth $50 million last March.

Kenjon Barner, running back – Barner, who was placed on injured reserve at the end of December, spent 2020 between the Tampa Bay active roster and practice squad. Along the NFL itinerary for the Oregon Duck were three stints in New England during the 2018 season. Those stints spanned five games, 19 carries and 71 rushing yards, and gave way to a Super Bowl LIII ring that Barner received in the mail and gifted to his father. The 31-year-old running back spent subsequent time with the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens before signing with Tampa Bay in September.

Antonio Brown, wide receiver – Brown’s 11-day stint with the Patriots in the fall of 2019 included four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown from his current quarterback. And since being reinstated from his eight-game suspension for violations of the league’s personal-conduct policy, the reigning NFL All-Decade wideout has seen the field for 10 games as a Buccaneer. Those games have included 48 catches for 542 yards and five trips to the end zone for Brown. The 32-year-old was inactive NFC championship due to a knee injury.

Rob Gronkowski, tight end – A three-time Super Bowl champion, four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler, Gronkowski retired in March 2019 and was traded in April 2020. A seventh-round pick followed the 31-year-old tight end to Tampa in exchange for a fourth-rounder. “Those years in New England mean everything to me,” Gronkowski said on Opening Night. “I mean, that’s where I started my career. That’s where the legend of Gronk started. That’s where it boomed. I appreciate those times. I am grateful for all those times.” Gronkowski has since started every game from opener through the title round as a Buccaneer, totaling 47 receptions for 666 yards and seven spikes.

Earl Watford, guard – Watford spent the second half of December on the New England practice squad. His release was met by a 53-man contract with Tampa Bay midway through January. The 30-year-old James Madison product, currently on the Buccaneers’ practice squad, had started four games and appeared in 15 for the Tampa Bay offensive line last season. Watford originally entered the league in the fourth round of the 2013 draft with the Arizona Cardinals.

Ted Larsen, guard – On the Buccaneers’ scout team since December, the 33-year-old Larsen has been elevated for three games during his stay. The interior offensive lineman out of North Carolina State arrived in the NFL with the Patriots at pick No. 205 overall in the 2010 draft. Larsen was claimed by the Buccaneers following his rookie preseason in Foxborough. His tenure in the league stretches 142 games and 91 starts, including playoffs, as part of five clubs.

Jack Cichy, linebacker – The Buccaneers placed Cichy on injured reserve following the divisional round of the playoffs. A sixth-round arrival out of Wisconsin in the 2018 draft, Cichy had also been on Tampa Bay’s injured reserve earlier in the fall. The 24-year-old linebacker was designated to return, waived and awarded to New England in December. Soon after, Cichy was waived by the Patriots with the failed-physical designation and briefly retained on the scout team. He agreed to rejoin the Buccaneers’ 53-man roster in time for January football.

Jason Licht, general manager – Licht, 49, served as a college scout for the Patriots from 1999 to 2000 and as a national scout for the Super Bowl XXXVI season of 2001. From there, the product of Nebraska Wesleyan operated as New England’s assistant director of player personnel in 2002. Licht reconvened with the organization as director of player personnel from 2009 through 2011. He was named Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2014 after two years in Arizona’s front office.


Mike Kafka, pass-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach – Entering the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice in 2010, Kafka found himself signing a futures contract with the Patriots as the calendar turned to 2013. New England waived the former Northwestern QB following the signing of Tim Tebow that June. Kafka returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 2016. He held the title of offensive quality control for the Chiefs in 2017 and was named quarterbacks coach in 2018. The 33-year-old’s role expanded to pass-game coordinator this season.

Greg Lewis, wide receivers coach – The Patriots acquired Lewis from then-head coach Andy Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles during the 2009 offseason. The wide receiver by way of Illinois had scored three touchdowns over the course of three matchups versus New England, but was released during roster cutdowns on Labor Day weekend. Lewis, now 40, worked as Philadelphia’s receivers coach in 2016 and has held that position for Kansas City since 2017.

Mike Pennel, defensive tackle – Pennel penned a two-year deal worth up to $8 million with the Patriots as free agency opened in 2019. The 6-foot-4, 330-pound nose tackle went on to play in three preseason games before being released. Pennel, a Colorado State University-Pueblo product, found his next team that October. And with the Chiefs, the midseason arrival would win Super Bowl LIV and re-up for 2020. The 29-year-old Pennel has recorded 61 tackles and one sack during his time in Kansas City. He’s the lone past Patriot on the active roster.

Brendan Daly, run-game coordinator and defensive line coach – There have been five consecutive Super Bowl trips for Daly. There have been six altogether. The 45-year-old was a defensive assistant for the Patriots in 2014 and served as the team’s defensive line coach from 2015 through 2018. As his Patriots contract expired in early 2019, Daly was hired by the Chiefs in the same capacity and secured his fourth ring by February. The Drake alum now doubles as Kansas City’s run-game coordinator in addition to overseeing the D-line.

Rick Burkholder, vice president of sports medicine and performance – Burkholder was a summer intern on the Patriots’ training staff in 1986. He graduated from Pittsburgh in 1987 before earning master’s degree in athletic training from Arizona. Fast-forwarding to 2020, Burkholder is finishing his eighth season with the Chiefs and his third as the organization’s VP of sports medicine and performance.