<
>

David Andrews, Duron Harmon earn ultimate respect from teammates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots announced their 2017 captains on Tuesday, and the presence of third-year center David Andrews and fifth-year safety Duron Harmon stood out as the ultimate show of respect from teammates.

Captains are decided based on a player vote and Andrews was recognized for elevating from undrafted free agent to steady starter, while Harmon -- a 2013 third-round draft choice from Rutgers -- had rallied the team at halftime of Super Bowl LI despite a 21-3 deficit.

In addition to Andrews and Harmon, quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Devin McCourty and special teamer Matthew Slater are the other captains.

Andrews had signed a three-year contract extension through 2020 in May, as the deal has a base value of $9 million and maximum value of $11 million. Andrews' contributions to the Patriots came immediately when he stepped in as a starter for injured Bryan Stork in 2015, starting the first 11 games of that season. He was ultimately replaced by Stork late in that season, but regained the job after beating out Stork in a 2016 training camp competition. He's been entrenched as the top option since and is an intelligent, steady presence in the pivot.

Meanwhile, Harmon was a hotly-debated selection in the 2013 draft because he wasn't highly rated by media analysts. But he's the final member of the team's 2013 draft class on the roster and has carved out his niche as the team's third safety, with the Patriots using their "big nickel" package (three safeties) as much as any team in the NFL. Last year, for example, he played 48.6 percent of the defensive snaps. He's also delivered some of the team's most clutch turnovers in higher-stakes games. Harmon signed a four-year contract with a maximum value of $20 million.