When it comes to picking an MVP for the AFC East in 2016, perhaps there should be two categories: Tom Brady and a backup choice.
Brady enters the year as the obvious leading candidate, as he has for the past decade-plus. If he serves a four-game suspension to open the year and Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo struggles, that might raise Brady's value and strengthen his candidacy.
Mike Rodak, Bills: I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to pick someone other than Tom Brady. He's been on top of this division since 2003, aside from the 2008 season that he missed because of a knee injury. Until Brady slows down, there isn't a lot of discussion or analysis needed here.
James Walker, Dolphins: How can anyone pick against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady? He’s been the king of the AFC East for the past 15 years. It looks like Brady will sit the first four games of the regular season, but that could enhance his case for division MVP. The Patriots have a tough early slate and could win just one or two games with unproven Jimmy Garoppolo under center in the opening month. But the Patriots will, as usual, catch fire once Brady returns. New England historically plays its best football in November and December. If Brady leads the favored Patriots to another division title while playing just 12 games, he gets my vote.
Rich Cimini, Jets: Who will be the division MVP? My three leading candidates: Tom Brady, Tom Brady and Tom Brady. Even if he serves a four-game suspension, the Patriots quarterback will have enough of a season to lead his team to yet another division title. This is life in the AFC East.
Mike Reiss, Patriots: Tom. Brady. Just had a déjà vu from each of the past 10-plus years, so until he shows signs of slippage, he gets the nod. If a non-Brady choice had to be made, it’s Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. We haven’t seen anyone like him at the position in recent history -- and possibly ever.