Free agency is for all intents and purposes over. The draft has finally come and gone. With the exception of the one day a week that the media has access to organized team activities, there’s not much to go over that hasn’t already been over-analyzed – so with that in mind here is the second in a series of historical looks at who has previously worn the uniform number of the newest members of the New England Patriots. Unless noted otherwise all the players listed took part in at least one regular season game in the season noted for the Pats.
Brandon LaFell is the latest member of the Patriots to don the number 19; here is a look at those who have preceded him to wear that jersey over the years during the franchise history of the Patriots.
19 – Wide Receiver Brandon LaFell
– 6′ 2″, 210 pound 27-year old from LSU joins the Patriots after four seasons with Carolina. He was drafted in the third round, 78th overall in 2010. In four years with the Panthers he caught 167 passes for 2,385 yards and 13 touchdowns; last year he had personal career highs in receptions (49) and touchdowns (5), and has averaged 639 yards receiving over the last three seasons.
2012: WR Donté Stallworth
(wore #18 in 2007)
– Stallworth was a first round pick out of Tennessee for the Saints in 2002. His rookie year he caught 8 touchdowns, and in ’05 he had 70 receptions for 945 yards and 7 scores. At the end of ’06 training camp Stallworth was traded to Philadelphia, where he had 725 yards despite missing four games with a hamstring injury. The Pats signed him as a free agent to a six-year, $30 million contract that was in reality just a one-year deal. Stallworth caught 46 passes for 697 yards and three touchdowns in the record-setting offense, but as the third option behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker his productivity did not match the contract from the previous season, so the Pats declined the option on him. He signed another big contract with the Browns in ’08 but had just 170 yards receiving; he then missed all of 2009 after being convicted of DUI manslaughter in Miami. After spending time with Baltimore and Washington the Pats re-signed him in December of 2012 after Julian Edelman went on IR with a broken leg. Stallworth came back to make a spectacular catch for a 63-yard touchdown – but in doing so injured his ankle, which resulted in his being placed on injured reserve as well. That turned out to be his only reception of 2012, and the final catch of his NFL career. Stallworth finished with 321 NFL receptions for 4,837 yards and 35 touchdowns, averaging 15.1 yards per reception. In his short time with the Patriots he is tied for 60th in franchise history with 760 yards receiving, and is tied with Caldwell, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Lloyd and several others for 60th with four touchdown receptions; his 47 receptions is 76th in club history.
2009-10: WR Brandon Tate
– Tate was drafted in the third round, 83rd overall in 2009 out of North Carolina. At UNC (where T.J. Yates was the QB) Tate was more renowned for his return skills (three touchdowns on kickoffs, three on punt returns) than receiving (a high of 25 receptions for 479 yards), and came with some red flags due to tearing his ACL and MCL midway through his senior year. Tate did make some electrifying plays with the Pats – he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2010 – but never did that much as a receiver. In his NFL career he has only 649 yards receiving, but he has developed into a solid return man with Cincinnati. Tate started ten games with the Pats in 2010 at WR, but was released as part of final roster cuts in 2011. The Bengals claimed him on waivers the next day, where he still handles both punt and kick return duties; meanwhile the Patriots have had mixed results in those departments ever since he was let go.
2006: WR Kelvin Kight
– Kight was a receiver at Florida during the Rex Grossman-Ron Zook era, and was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2004. He bounced around NFL camps and parctice squads with the Packers, Jaguars, Vikings and Pats from ’04-’06, making his only NFL reception on Christmas Eve of 2006 for the Patriots on the first play of the game against Jacksonville. Kight was on the roster for the final four games of ’06, and also had a run for 9 yards the following week against Tennessee. These days he is employed as a sales manager at a Kia Motors dealership near Atlanta.
2001-03: QB Damon Huard
– Huard signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Washington in 1996. After being cut by Cincinnati in training camp he caught on with Miami, spending one season in NFL Europe and three years as backup to Dan Marino where he compiled a 5-1 record in spot duty. In 2002 Huard got his first game action in garbage time in a blowout win against the Jets; later that season he converted for a first down out of a punt formation in a three-point victory at Chicago. The Patriots had drafted Rohan Davey in ’02, so Huard departed for Kansas City as a free agent following the 2003 season; he spent five years with the Chiefs, starting 21 games with the Chiefs. In ’06 he threw 11 touchdowns with only one pick and won the starting job in ’07, but he was slowed down with multiple injuries in ’07 and ’08. KC released him the following spring when they traded for Matt Cassel and Huard signed on with San Francisco, but he was cut at the end of training camp in ’09. Huard’s career stats with the Pats were 0-1 passing and two rushes for three yards.; he finished his NFL career with 27 starts (15-12), completing 61% of his passes with 33 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. In his post-NFL career Huard has worked as the Chief Administrative Officer of the football program at the University of Washington, and similar to Drew Bledsoe he has delved into the winery business.
1996-98: P/QB Tom Tupa
– Tupa was drafted in the third round (68th overall) of the 1988 draft by the Phoenix. Initially he was strictly a quarterback, getting a fair amount of playing time in ’89 in relief of Gary Hogeboom with limited success (0-2, 3 TD, 9 picks) for the 5-11 Cardinals. In ’91 Tupa was their starter out of training camp with more of the same (4-7, 6 TD, 13 INT) on another bad (4-12) team. The Cardinals traded for Chris Chandler to be their starting quarterback, and Tupa joined the Colts in ’92 as their backup quarterback and punter; he pulled that double duty for more than a decade, until 2004 at the age of 38. In his three years with the Patriots Tupa averaged for 44.7 yards per punt. The following season Tupa signed on with the Jets, who played the patriots in week one. Tupa ttok over at quarterback when Vinny Testaverde suffered a season-ending achilles injury, and went 6-10 with two touchdowns – including a 25-yard TD to Keyshawn Johnson on his first snap. However, he also coughed up a fumble that the Willie McGinest recovered for a touchdown as the Pats won by two on an Adam Vinatieri field goal as time expired. At the end of that season Tupa earned his only Pro Bowl appearance, with an average of 45.2 yards per punt. In a 2005 preseason game Tupa injured his back while warming up; in a landmark decision a Maryland court rejected the idea that football injuries should not be considered accidental because of the rough nature of the sport, and determined that he was eligible for workers compensation. In his NFL career with seven teams Tupa passed for 3,430 yards, 12 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. As a punter he fared much better, with 873 punts (and only two blocks) for 37,862 yards, an average of 43.4 yards per punt; eight times he ranked in the top ten in the NFL for yards per punt.
1982-84: QB Mike Kerrigan
– Kerrigan was signed as a free agent out of Northwestern, where he was at that time the school’s all-time leading passer. He spent ’82 on IR after suffering a concussion, and ended up getting on the field just once in each of the next two seasons as the third-string quarterback behind Steve Grogan and Tony Eason. In the final game of the ’83 season Kerrigan went 6-14 for 72 yards in relief of Eason in a loss at Seattle. The following year at Indianapolis he took over late in the game, primarily handing off (1-1 for 13 yards) to Mosi Tatupu, in a 50-17 blowout victory. Kerrigan was released following the ’84 season and then spent eleven years in the Canadian Football League, mostly with Hamilton, passing for 21,714 yards and 126 touchdowns. In his first year there he led the Tiger-Cats to a Grey Cup championship and was named to the first of his two CFL all-star teams. In ’89 Kerrigan again quarterbacked his club to the Grey Cup, but this time his club lost 43-40 – despite his passing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in what is considered to be the greatest game in CFL history.
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