In the 1993 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe first overall after the team had finished the prior season with just 2 wins. Bledsoe improved the team from 2 to 5 wins in his rookie season.
The next season, Bledsoe threw for 4,555 yards and 25 touchdowns and earned his first of three Pro Bowl bids with the Patriots. Then, in 1996 Bledsoe threw for 4,086 yards and 27 touchdowns en route to his second Pro Bowl selection. He led the team to the Super Bowl where they ultimately lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Coming off his eighth season, in 2001, the Patriots signed Drew Bledsoe to a 10-year, $103 million deal which, at the time, was the richest contract in NFL history. By then, Bledsoe had turned into one of the Patriots’ best quarterbacks in franchise history and was considered the face of the franchise.
How things turned out
The excitement in New England didn’t last long. Just two games into the 2001 NFL season, Bledsoe suffered a season-ending injury after sustaining a hit from New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. The hit tore a blood vessel in his chest and almost resulted in his death.
The injury effectively ended Bledsoe’s career with the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady came in to replace Bledsoe and went on to win the Super Bowl that year. Brady began the Patriots dynasty and Bledsoe never started another game for the Patriots.
Just a year later, in 2002, the Patriots traded Bledsoe to their division rival the Buffalo Bills. Bledsoe went on to play for the Bills for the next three seasons until he was released in 2004. Ultimately, Bledsoe’s record deal with the Patriots ended poorly almost as quickly as it was signed.