New England Patriots

L-R: Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison (Jed Jacobsohn/Donald Miralle/Brian Bahr, Getty Images)

L-R: Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison (Jed Jacobsohn/Donald Miralle/Brian Bahr, Getty Images)

From the NFL Newswire at

The Patriots announced their trio of team Hall of Fame finalists on Tuesday, and they’re all from the early days of the Belichick-Brady dynasty. Defensive end Richard Seymour, linebacker Mike Vrabel, and safety Rodney Harrison are the three candidates for induction alongside tackle Leon Gray. Fans now have until May 3 to vote on who gets the nod.

If time on the ballot gives someone the edge, then Vrabel is the leader in the clubhouse. This is his fourth straight year as a finalist, while Seymour is in his third. Harrison makes his first appearance.

Vrabel, now the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, signed with the Patriots in 2001 as a free agent. He went on to win three Super Bowl championships in four seasons as a crucial piece of the defense – and even the offense. He also morphed into a tight end with a touchdown in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.

Of the three finalists, Seymour easily has the best chance to pair a Patriots Hall of Fame honor with a bust in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Seymour anchored the Patriots’ defensive line for eight seasons, especially in their early Super Bowl-winning seasons. He earned three straight First Team All-Pro distinctions from 2003-05, and seven Pro Bowl nods. He embodied the Belichick way on defense: he didn’t put up eye-popping stats, he just dominated with pressure.

Harrison played the final six seasons of his career in New England, and he enjoyed something of a renaissance. After appearing to be on the decline at age 31, Harrison exploded for a First Team All-Pro season as arguably the Patriots’ best defensive player in 2003. Harrison took an already-dominant Pats defense to yet another level in their back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 2003-04, and is fully deserving of a Patriots Hall of Fame jacket some day.

But only one of the candidates will get the jacket this year. Whoever wins will join six key Patriots from the Belichick era who are already inducted: WR Troy Brown (2012), LB Tedy Bruschi (2013), CB Ty Law (2014), Willie McGinest (2015), RB Kevin Faulk (2016), and OT Matt Light (2018).

Voting runs from now until May 3, with the winner being announced soon after. Cast your vote at The Patriots are the only team in the NFL to grant fans this responsibility, so take advantage of it while you can.

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