FOXBOROUGH – Every year ahead of the upcoming NFL season, the league releases a multi-week countdown of the best 100 players in the league. When this tradition first began in 2011, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was ranked number one in the inaugural edition. He also received the honor in consecutive years in 2017 and on last year's 2018 list. This year, however, Brady's reign at the top has come to an end. Even though that's kind of absurd to think about.

Brady is coming off of another season when he defied the odds and won another Super Bowl title. Anyone who continues to doubt him only adds fuel to the fire that drives Brady to do better every single day. I can see how an argument can be made that Brady's peak is behind him. But his winning ability has shown that he is nothing if not the best player in the league.

This year, however, the NFL ranked him sixth. It is still a respectable spot, but they ranked, in order, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ahead of Brady.

For one, Gurley has a number of injury concerns. For another, an argument about age could just as easily be made for Brees. Additionally, Brady defeated Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game. And lastly, the Patriots offense dominated Donald in last year's Super Bowl. But sure, NFL. Go ahead. Rank Brady sixth. Let's see where he ends up at the end of the year.

As for the other Patriots on the list, they were well-represented. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore came in the twenty-second position. Free safety Devin McCourty was ranked at eighty-nine and reigning Super Bowl MVP and wide receiver Julian Edelman was ranked at number ninety.

The Patriots tied for eighth with four players on the list, trailing the first place Dallas Cowboys by four players. Arguments could definitely have been made for Dont'a Hightower and Daniel Andrews, among others. This season, the Patriots will just have to show that they care about rings more than they care about the NFL Top 100.

Image via Flickr / Jeffrey Beall