Almost as important a position as the slot receiver and tight end in the Patriots' offense over the years, the role of the third down running back has been crucial to the success of many Super Bowl champion teams in Foxborough.

The most recent, and arguably greatest of the bunch, retired yesterday as James White called it quits on his stellar 8-year career with the Patriots. The three time Super Bowl champion was one of the most reliable offensive weapons for the Pats during their second dynasty.

Often times, if the offense wasn't functioning to its normal standards, the layman's fix was "get James White more involved." More often than not, it proved to be just the fix the team needed. Look no further than Super Bowl 51 vs. Atlanta, when White caught 14 passes, racked up over 140 scrimmage yards and scored three TD's and a two-point conversion in the Pats' infamous 28-3 comeback. Simply put, that ain't happening without "Sweet Feet" as he's known on Instagram.

While White made his case to be New England's greatest 3rd down back, leading all NFL running backs in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TD's from 2015-2020, he's actually just the latest in a long lineage at the position.

Let's meet the candidates for greatest pass-catching back in Pats history:

- Tony Collins (1981-1987)

- Best season: 1986 - 156att/412yds/3td rushing, 77rec/684yds/5td receiving

- Patriots career: 4647 yards, 32 td rushing; 261rec, 2356yds, 12 td receiving

Kevin Faulk (1999-2011)

- Best season: 2008 - 83att/507yds/3td rushing, 58rec/486yds/3td receiving

- Patriots career: 3607 yards, 16 td rushing; 431rec, 3701yds, 15 td receiving

Danny Woodhead (2010-2012)

- Best season: 2012 - 76att/301yds/4td rushing, 40rec/446yds/3td receiving

- Patriots career: 1199 yards, 10 td rushing; 92rec, 982yds, 4 td receiving

Shane Vereen (2011-2014)

- Best season: 2014 - 96att/391yds/2td rushing, 52rec/447yds/3td receiving

- Patriots career: 907 yards, 7 td rushing; 107rec, 1023yds, 7 td receiving

James White (2014-2021)

- Best season: 2018 - 94att/425yds/5td rushing, 87rec/751yds/7td receiving

- Patriots career: 1278 yards, 11 td rushing; 381rec, 3278yds, 25 td receiving

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