The New England Patriots have had some great tight ends throughout the franchise history. This list of Patriots tight ends features former greats, current impact players, and even future stars. As the tight end position increasingly becomes more of a focal point in the offensive schemes of today, one can only imagine what this list could look like in years down the road.
No matter what happens with the evolution of this position, these Patriots’ tight ends have left a legacy for this that can’t be taken away. Below are the top 5 tight ends in Franchise history.
1. Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez’s career stat line: 1,325 receptions, 15,127 yards, and 111 touchdowns. His receptions (third) and yards (sixth) are not only the most among tight ends, but they are both top-10 among all positions. His touchdowns are the eight-most all-time and second only to Gates among TEs.
Gonzalez’s physical ability is greater than any other tight end before and after him. His skill set was unstoppable, leading to 14 Pro Bowls, 6 All-Pros (most ever at the position), and a seat on the 2000s All-Decade Team. No one personified the tight end position better than Anthony David Gonzalez.
2. Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski only entered the league in 2010, but his dominance on the field makes his tenure feel much longer. In his first six years, he scored 10+ TDs in all but one season. Furthermore, his 14 post-season touchdowns are the most ever at the position. At 6’6″ and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is one of the best red-zone weapons the NFL has ever seen.
He was fortunate to have Tom Brady as his QB for the entirety of his which makes life easier. But there is a reason Brady consistently looks Gronk’s way. His massive wingspan and impressive frame make him a downfield threat and a trustworthy target. Moreover, his size and intense mentality allow him to be an exceptional run blocker.
3. Antonia Gates
Antonio Gates began his career as a star basketball player at Kent State. He parlayed that into an undrafted ticket to the National Football League and an eventual Hall of Fame bust. He personifies the basketball-player-turned-tight-end trope that still runs rampant in the league.
Gates’ athleticism and elusiveness on the basketball court translated to impressive route running and after-the-catch ability on the gridiron. He spent all 16 of his NFL years on the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers from 2003-2018. His 955 catches are third-most all-time for tight ends as he played to nearly 40 years old. While he doesn’t top the reception list, Gates’ 116 touchdowns rank No. 1 for the position.
4. Shannon Sharpe
14 years of Shannon Sharpe’s career, he failed to top 600 yards in only three. His first two seasons and an injury-shortened 1999 campaign. Shannon is a gifted player that caused fits for every defense he faced. As a physical specimen, Sharpe had no trouble moving the chains.
He finally left a mark on the game as one of the best trash talkers ever.
5. Ben Watson
The Patriots drafted the former University of Georgia tight end in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He had his best season in 2006, starting 13 games and notching 643 receiving yards. The next year, he caught a career-best six touchdowns. In the end, he snagged the fourth-most touchdowns for a tight end in Patriots history