When Tom Brady departed the Northern cold for a warmer climate, the AFC East lost its only guaranteed future Hall of Fame player. While the AFC South didn’t produce many Pro Football Hall of Fame hopefuls, the East is also relatively barren. However, several young and controversial players that could claw their ways to Canton.
In this article, we’ll examine which players from the AFC East deserve the greatest individual honor a football player can receive. Every player with a relevant Hall of Fame case appears under his team. If a player doesn’t appear, he has no case or not enough accolades to register a percentage over ten. The percentages represent accrued achievements. This means a player’s percentage rises over time as he wins awards and accumulates statistics.
Even superstar players who are still on their rookie contracts usually have low percentages. However, that doesn’t mean I think they’ll all miss the Hall of Fame. Next to each percentage is an additional designation that says either YES, NO, or MAYBE. These are my ultimate determinations on whether or not a player will get enshrined in Canton.
Only a few cases received the MAYBE designation. It goes to players who find themselves stuck in a middle ground with good arguments for and against enshrinement. They could go either way but already have a strong foundation to build on.
Remember, the Hall of Fame is highly selective and reserved for generational talents. This process aims to match that selectivity by only allowing a few elite players in. However, I reserve the right to make some controversial predictions for younger players.
Based on my predictions, the AFC East only has two future Hall of Fame players and only three players with over a 50% chance of earning gold jackets.
Tre’Davious White CB – 21% NO
The Bills primarily rely on younger players. So, it makes sense that Buffalo doesn’t have many Hall of Fame candidates. White’s career got off on the right foot. He flashed immense potential during his first two years before tying for the league-lead with six interceptions last season and earning a First-Team All-Pro selection.
It’s a tremendous start for the shutdown corner, but one standout season isn’t enough to generate a Hall of Fame discussion.
Xavien Howard CB – 15% NO & Byron Jones CB – 15% NO
I’m covering these two in the same blurb because they’re in similar situations. Howard played 12 games in 2018, but he tied for the league-lead with seven interceptions. For his stellar play, Howard made the Pro Bowl and earned a Second-Team All-Pro selection. However, he only played five games last season before landing on injured reserve.
As for Jones, he entered the NFL as a safety. After three seasons, Dallas switched him to cornerback, where the UCONN product thrived. He knocked away 14 passes in 2018, made the Pro Bowl, and received a Second-Team All-Pro nomination. However, Jones didn’t make the Pro Bowl last season, and he hasn’t intercepted a pass since changing positions.
New England Patriots
Stephon Gilmore CB – 68% YES
Few defensive backs prove capable of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, but Gilmore separated himself from some all-time greats last season. Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman dominate conversations when talking about future Hall of Fame cornerbacks, but Gilmore belongs with those two.
If Gilmore puts together two more All-Pro seasons, he’ll have a good shot at receiving a gold jacket. Unfortunately for the former Bill, his prime started late. Gilmore didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his age 26 season, and his first All-Pro selection came seven years after Buffalo drafted him.
Cam Newton QB – 65% NO
Winning the MVP gives Newton’s Hall of Fame odds a massive boost. The former No. 1 overall pick only has three Pro Bowl selections, meaning his incredible 2015 season is carrying his résumé. Newton has more rushing touchdowns than any quarterback in history, but he only has one 4,000-yard passing season and one 30-passing touchdown year.
Newton is an above-average quarterback, but he needs another All-Pro season or a Super Bowl victory to have a shot at the Hall of Fame.
Devin McCourty FS – 38% NO
McCourty is one of the few aging defensive backs Bill Belichick hasn’t traded away, and for good reasons. Belichick trusts McCourty and respects the veteran’s capabilities. Even at 33 years old, McCourty is one of New England’s most important players. The two-time Pro Bowler has three Second-Team All-Pro selections and three Super Bowl titles.
Julian Edelman WR – 25% NO
Oddly enough, Edelman is second all-time in playoff receptions and receiving yards, only trailing the legendary Jerry Rice. Edelman is fantastic in the playoffs and has three Super Bowl titles to his name, but fans never selected him to the Pro Bowl. The 34-year-old only has three 1,000-yard seasons, which places him far below any Hall of Fame receiver.
Dont’a Hightower LB – 23% NO
Hightower made Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2019, becoming the centerpiece for New England’s defense. Outside of a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2016, the three-time Super Bowl Champion is without significant accolades. Opting-out of the 2020 season didn’t help Hightower’s Hall of Fame case either.
New York Jets
Frank Gore RB – 92% YES
Gore never was the NFL’s best running back, but he’s headed to the Hall of Fame. Usually, Canton reserves gold jackets for players who competed at the highest level. While Gore only has five Pro Bowls and one Second-Team All-Pro selection to his name, the 37-year-old is more than qualified for the Hall of Fame.
Gore ran for 1,000 yards nine times and at least 960 yards 11 times. He has 12 seasons with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage, and the Miami product statistically ranks among the best players in history. His career totals, third in rushing attempts, third in rushing yards, fourth in yards from scrimmage, and seventh in all-purpose yards, make him an easy Hall of Fame selection.
While Gore deserves a spot in Canton, he probably won’t get there as a first-ballot player, and he shouldn’t. As long as he eventually gets in, the former third-round pick should be content.
Le’Veon Bell RB – 48% NO
Bell seemed primed for a fantastic career, until he decided to sit out the entire 2018 season because of a contract dispute. The two-time First-Team All-Pro didn’t play a single snap with the Steelers that year, and he signed with the Jets in 2019. Unfortunately, Bell’s first season in New York went horribly wrong. He ran for fewer than 800 yards and only three touchdowns.
This season isn’t looking much better for Bell. The Jets recently placed him on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. We don’t know when he’ll return to action.
C.J. Mosley LB – 40% NO
Mosley’s career also took a turn for the worst when he arrived in New York last season. The four-time Pro Bowler only played two games for the Jets in 2019 before deciding he needed more time to heal from a groin injury. Instead of returning to play this year, the former Baltimore Raven opted-out, leaving New York’s defense without one of its best players.
During his five seasons with the Ravens, Mosley received four Second-Team All-Pro selections, which put him among the NFL’s elite linebackers. Two or three more All-Pro selections could’ve built a stellar Hall of Fame case, but it doesn’t seem likely now.