Who is the highest-paid player in Patriots history after Brady?

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The New England Patriots have one of the richest histories in the NFL, winning six Super Bowl titles over the last 20 years. But how rich have players gotten by playing for the franchise?

Bill Belichick has notoriously cut bait with great players -- from Lawyer Milloy to Richard Seymour to Chandler Jones -- because of incoming paydays. Those players have made bank elsewhere, but the team continued to bring home Lombardi Trophies. Belichick flipped the script this offseason, though, spending a record amount on free agents after going just 7-9 in 2020.

Which players have earned the most money while playing in Foxboro? Here are the top five:

5. Drew Bledsoe

Bledsoe comes in at No. 5 after earning $52,606,250 during the nine years he spent in New England.

The most money he made in a single season was 1995, where he collected $13.2 million total thanks to an $11.5 million signing bonus. While the Pats went 6-10 that season and finished fourth in the AFC East, he came back the next season and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl XXXI appearance against the Green Bay Packers.

Bledsoe left the Patriots for the division-rival Buffalo Bills in 2002 after getting usurped by a player who appears later on this list.

4. Rob Gronkowski

The greatest tight end of all-time lands at No. 4 after making $53,379,507 with the Patriots from 2010 to 2018.

Gronk and the Patriots agreed to a six-year, $54 million extension in 2012, which was the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history at that point. He gave up to $9.75 million in money from the franchise when he abruptly retired in 2019, though he has since recouped money by rejoining the league and playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As it stands, Gronkowski is the seventh-highest paid tight end in the history of the game. His $62,629,507 career earnings are less than $20 million behind the top tight end on that list, Jason Witten.

3. Stephon Gilmore

Belichick brought the Brinks truck for Gilmore in 2017, and the move has paid off tremendously for New England.

Gilmore pulled the opposite move Bledsoe did, signing a five-year, $65 million deal with the Patriots after playing his first five seasons with the Bills. Gilmore has since been awarded 2019 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and won a championship while helping hold the Los Angeles Rams to just three points in Super Bowl LIII.

After earning $56,643,222 with the Patriots over the last four years, Gilmore’s future with the franchise remains unclear, though the team held onto him through the 2021 NFL Draft instead of trading him.

2. Devin McCourty

McCourty has earned the fruits of his labor after being a steady presence in the Patriots’ secondary for over a decade.

After playing his first five seasons on a $10 million, entry-level deal, McCourty signed another five-year deal worth $47.5 million in 2015. He will play the 2021 season on the second year of a two-year, $23-million deal.

McCourty has started 171 of 176 regular-season games for the Patriots since entering the league in 2010, claiming two Pro Bowl nods, three Super Bowl titles and $74,723,811 in career earnings along the way. His brother, Jason McCourty, trails him by about $20 million at $54,737,024 for his career.

1. Tom Brady

If all five players on this list went out to dinner, we know who would take the check.

You know the story: Brady replaces Bledsoe, proceeds to win Super Bowl XXXVI, wins five more Super Bowls with the Patriots, leaves the Patriots and wins another title in Tampa Bay.

But just how much did TB12 make in New England?

That total comes out to $235,166,804 across 20 seasons.

His richest season came in his last season with the Patriots, where he made $23 million -- over $5 million less than he made in his first season with the Bucs. The most Brady ever made on a single contract was $72 million, which came as part of a four-year deal that began in 2010. You can see more about each of his career contracts here.

He will pass Drew Brees this coming season as the highest-earning player in NFL history -- though that record might not stand for long.. 

All contract details provided by Spotrac.

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