Arguably the best tight end in Patriots history (that is, until Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez came along), Ben Coates spent nine years in New England and was a favorite target for quarterback Drew Bledsoe. After being drafted in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft, his first two years in Foxborough were uneventful.
But then, in 1993, the Patriots selected Drew Bledsoe with the 1st overall pick and brought in head coach Bill Parcells, two decisions that would alter Coates’ future for the next six years. Coates had a breakout year in 1993, catching 53 passes, good for 659 yards and eight touchdowns.
Coates had his best season in 1994, being named to his first Pro Bowl. Coates hauled in 96 receptions for 1,174 yards and seven touchdowns. Coates would continue his success over the four years, being named to Pro Bowl in each of those seasons.
In Super Bowl XXXI, Coates had a solid game, reeling in six passes for 66 yards and a touchdown.
After the 1999 season, the Patriots releas...