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Patriots Hall of Fame Semifinalists

NFL Football Super Bowl XXXIX - Philadelphia Eagles against New England Patriots Richard Seymour during Super Bowl 39 in Jacksonville, Fla, on Feb.6, 2005 at ALLTEL Stadium. The Patriots won 24-21. (Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images)

Although the Patriots are the most successful franchise ever, they only boast nine Hall of Famers. This year, though, they look to add two more to their ranks as players from the Belichick era begin filing in after players like Moss, Seau, and Law.

Fred Taylor-RB

Taylor was born in Pahokee, Florida, and went to Glades Central High School where he was a star in both football and track. He initially played linebacker but switched to running back as a junior. His aggressive nature formed from playing as a linebacker would remain throughout his career. As a senior, he ran for 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns, while receiving Florida’s “Super Senior” and All-State honors.

Taylor joined the University of Florida on an athletic scholarship, playing four years from 1994 to 1997. In his freshman year he did not start but was still able to pick up an impressive total of 873 yards and eight touchdowns. But his play fell in his second year, only getting 281 yards and five touchdowns in six games. This continued into his junior year, playing in seven games while compiling 629 yards and five touchdowns.

When Fred got the chance to play he was very successful. The only reason he didn’t have eye-popping stats is because he had to share the field with Terry Jackson and Elijah Williams. But by his senior year, he finally became the sole focus on the running game. Taylor, now also a senior captain, ran for 1,292 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He earned a first-team All-SEC spot, and AP third-team All-American honors. 

Taylor only played two years with the Patriots, the other eleven years coming as a member of the Jaguars who drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 1998. In his rookie season, Taylor started 12 out of 15 games for the Jaguars while living up to his draft placement with 1,223 and 14 touchdowns (which would be his career-high in TDs). He also showed a knack for receiving, receiving 44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns.

Fred was named to the All-Rookie team, placed 10th in the league in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, and second in all-purpose touchdowns. What made him truly special is that for the first ten years of his career, whenever he started at least 12 games in a season he would pass the 1,100 mark.

Taylor’s best season was in 2007 where, as a team captain, Taylor rushed for 1,202 yards on 223 carries (career-high 5.4 yards-per-carry) with five touchdowns in 15 games. Taylor surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards, rushed for five straight 100-yard games, won an AFC Offensive Player of the Month award, and was named to his sole Pro Bowl Team.

But unfortunately, he fell off hard. The following year he had to share time with third-year back Jones-Drew, causing Taylor to only accumulate 556 yards and a single touchdown before getting placed on the IR for the first time in his career. Jones-Drew impressed that year, rushing for 824 yards and 12 touchdowns. Taylor was released shortly after the season ended.

The constantly roughed up, 33-year-old running back found a new home in New England. Taylor was signed to a two-year contract 11 days after his release. He played in the first four games of the season, before suffering an ankle injury.  He was never placed on IR, and Taylor returned to the field for the Patriots in week 16 against his former team, the Jaguars. He finished the season with a measly 269 yards and four touchdowns.

The following year, Taylor played in the first three games of the season, before once again suffering an injury in Week 3. The next time he saw a snap was in the fourth quarter of Week 13. Taylor played in seven games total, finishing off his career with 155 yards and no touchdowns. He has a very small chance at making the Hall but might continue to be undervalued as he was for his entire career.

Richard Seymour-DT/DE

Seymour has a very good chance at making the Hall this year after being a finalist last year. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it in and watched former teammate Law enter without him.

After finishing his senior high school season with 8 sacks and 83 tackles, Seymour joined the University of Georgia. This decision was partially due to just how good his teammates would be, as he would be part of a line that would produce four future first-round picks. Seymour’s career started off a bit slow, appearing in nine games while making two tackles.

But he would quickly become a valuable player, playing in every game as a sophomore while snagging 69 tackles and four sacks. In his junior season, Seymour started all 11 games and led the team with 74 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, and once again four sacks. He slowed down a bit in his senior season but still got his second All-SEC selection in a row. Additionally, as a senior, Seymour was even named a first-team All-American.

Seymour was drafted by the Patriots sixth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft. He played in 13 games in his rookie season, starting 10 of them. He showed early promise, amassing three sacks and 44 tackles at his tackle position. He had a sack during the Patriots playoff run, even starting in the Super Bowl.

Seymour’s second season saw him take a large leap in his development, collecting 5.5 sacks, 56 tackles and an interception en route to earning his first Pro Bowl selection. His presence was felt greatly on special teams as well, blocking multiple field goals through the regular season. At the conclusion of the season, Seymour switched positions to end as the Patriots altered their defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

Despite this change, Seymour had the best year in his career, becoming a defensive team captain, Pro Bowler, and All-Pro player. Seymour finished with a career-high eight sacks and 57 tackles in 15 games. He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week TWICE for his field goal blocking antics, and once again positively contributed to the Patriot’s second Super Bowl victory.

He continued to be an important player in the Patriots defense, getting named to multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams. This was in spite of contract disputes and an injury that kept him from playing more than nine contests in the 2007 season. Belichick, who is known to be rather stingy with handing out big contracts, traded Seymour (who was in a contract year) away at the start of the 2009 season for a 1st rounder (which would be used to select star LT Nate Solder).

His career with the Raiders didn’t start off too well, as Seymour refused to report to the Raiders in the days following the trade. He eventually did report to the team a week after the trade, and started in the team’s first game two days after that. He went on to have a relatively bad campaign compared to his other seasons, recording 47 tackles and four sacks on the year.

But, like he always seemed to do, Seymour rebounded with his best season in the last four years. He switched back to tackle, yet still managed 5.5 sacks and 48 tackles in only 13 games. For this performance, Seymour was selected to his sixth career Pro Bowl, first in four years. After signing a contract making him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, Seymour would go on to have his best season as a Raider. He recorded 29 tackles and 6 sacks during the season, and once again made the Pro Bowl.

After two more solid seasons, the Raiders voided the rest of Seymour’s hefty contract. After he became a free agent, he drew interests and received offers from multiple teams, especially the Falcons. He overvalued himself, and was unable to find a deal that fit him, and thus retired. His stats did not show his true impact, but luckily enough people have recognized his greatness to give him a real shot to be the 10th Patriot in the Hall.

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