We all remember how much injuries decimated the 2015 New England Patriots. Taking a gander at the current Patriots roster, it is clear that these eight players must not sustain season ending injuries.
Honorable mention: Danny Amendola, Martellus Bennett, Dion Lewis, Sebastian Vollmer, Malcom Brown, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Patrick Chung.
8. Malcolm Butler
2015 story: Butler posted 67 tackles, 15 passes defended and two interceptions en route to his first Pro Bowl berth. If you are looking for an example of a Super Bowl hangover, you will have to find a different Super Bowl hero.
Why he is essential: True No. 1 corners are hard to come by in the NFL. Having a top-tier starting cornerback is pretty much the defensive equivalent of having an excellent quarterback. Not only does Butler have great coverage ability, but he also comes up big on run defense. He’s not afraid to hit. He also plays with an infectious personality, lifting his teammates around him.
What would happen if he got hurt in 2016: The Patriots would have a tough decision to make. They could either shift Logan Ryan to the No. 1 spot, or they could promote the next-best cornerback at the time (Cyrus Jones maybe, or E.J. Biggers) to cover the opposing offense’s best wideout.
Recent news about Butler: The Boston Herald expects the Patriots to slap a first-round tender on Butler next offseason. The absurdly underpaid defensive back is bringing in $600,000 this season.
Next: 7. Nate Solder