New England Patriots: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time
- 3x Super Bowl champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX)
- 4,715 career receiving yards
- 24 career receiving touchdowns
- 260 career postseason receiving yards
Part of what makes the Patriots such an impressive franchise is their ability to consistently spin straw into gold. Whether it’s late-round draft pick steals (see: Brady, Tom), undrafted players evolving into regular starters (Malcolm Butler), or bargain finds in free agency that become major stars, no team gets more from their players than the Patriots.
David Patten is a perfect example of two of those three categories. After playing college ball at Western Carolina, Patten went undrafted in 1996.
Unable to shake the feeling that he still had more to give the sport he loved, he joined the Albany Firebirds in 1996, competing against other teams and players in the Arena Football League. One of whom was Kurt Warner, who Patten would face just five years later under very different circumstances.
Patten finally got his chance in the NFL, playing sparingly for the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns before making his way to New England in the spring of 2001.
As an undrafted free agent, the bar was already set pretty low. Yet, Patten came onto the Patriots roster and immediately found himself starting at outside receiver opposite Troy Brown.
That was a magical season for both Patten and for the Patriots. The journeyman receiver caught 51 receptions for 749 yards and four touchdowns over the course of the regular season. He then added a touchdown each in the AFC Championship Game and in Super Bowl XXXVI against the then-St. Louis Rams – who were quarterbacked by Patten’s old AFL adversary, Kurt Warner.
After winning a championship that season, Patten had a career-high 61 receptions for 824 receiving yards, to go along with five touchdowns, in 2002. His 2003 season was mostly lost to injury, though he did earn his second Super Bowl ring at the end of that year. And in 2004, his final season with the Patriots, he caught 44 balls for 800 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns.
Patten was never quite the receiver Troy Brown was, but he still made some memorable and clutch receptions in the early days of the Patriots dynasty. He was to New England back then what Danny Amendola was to the franchise in 2014 and 2016.