As with any sport, only the best of the best NFL players eventually make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as evidenced by a 2019 class that includes Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed. There are many active players who appear to be on track to get a bust in Canton after they call it a career, and here are some of the most like future Hall of Famers still playing in the league.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is obviously a no-brainer. He is considered by many to be the best-ever at the most important position on the field. He has six Super Bowl wins with the Patriots, and he could potentially end his career with more than that. Brady is a lock to be a first-ballot inductee.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
If Drew Brees’ career didn’t overlap with Brady’s, he might have more than one Super Bowl ring on his fingers. Even though he hasn’t had the same success as Brady in January and February, the 40-year-old Brees is still a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. He is the all-time leader in passing yards and is second, behind only another future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, in passing touchdowns.
Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
The way he demanded a trade out of Pittsburgh may rub some voters the wrong way, but Antonio Brown is perhaps the greatest receiver of his generation and a player who is definitely going to be in the Hall of Fame. He already has 74 career touchdowns, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down as he enters his age-31 season. He’s getting a downgrade at quarterback as he goes to the Raiders, but his talent should be able to overcome that and have another good season to add to his career stats.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
As a career Cardinal, Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t had much postseason success and lacks a Super Bowl ring, but his overall stats are enough to get him into the Hall. The 11-time Pro Bowler is third in career receptions, second in receiving yards, and sixth in receiving touchdowns — and he leads all active players in those three categories. Even though he doesn’t possess a championship ring, Fitzgerald is one of the best NFL players ever and a virtual lock for the Hall of fame.
Antonio Gates, TE, Free agent
After 16 seasons with the Chargers, they and Antonio Gates parted ways this offseason. He remains unsigned as a free agent, but he has not announced his retirement, so Gates is still considered an active player — and possibly the best tight end in NFL history. His 116 touchdowns are the most all-time among tight ends.
Frank Gore, RB, Buffalo Bills
Frank Gore had a great 10-year run in San Francisco before he hit his 30s and his production started to decline, but he still had a 1,000-yard season (and just missed a second) after leaving the 49ers. He’s fourth on the all-time rushing yards list, and the three players ahead of him — Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders — are all in Canton. As one of the greatest, if not underrated, NFL players ever, Gore will be joining them before too long.
Khalil Mack, LB, Chicago Bears
In just five seasons, Khalil Mack already racked up 53 sacks and 350 tackles, 78 of them going for a loss. He’s one of the most feared NFL players on defense, and he’s one of the league’s active sack leaders. At 28, the former first-round pick has several seasons left in his prime, and he is going to move up the career lists among defenders. His Hall of Fame case will grow with every season, but he could already be a Hall of Famer if he doesn’t take another snap in the NFL.
Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos
In 120 career games, Von Miller has 98 sacks — which are the second most among active defenders — and 26 forced fumbles. His 125 tackles for a loss put him 15th all-time in that category, and he is only going to continue moving up that list as he needs just eight more to crack the top 10; he’s never had fewer than nine in a season. This is his age-30 season so he should still have at least a couple more good years ahead of him, but Miller would be a Hall of Famer if he retired today.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
He may not have the postseason success that Brady has, but Aaron Rodgers is still an elite quarterback who is among the best of his generation, and possibly all time. Rodgers had big shoes to fill when he replaced Hall of Fame gunslinger Brett Favre in Green Bay, but the former first-round pick has more than lived up to the challenge. He ranks No. 1 all-time with a 103.1 passer rating (minimum 1,500 attempts) and is in the top 10 in career passing touchdowns. He’ll be joining Favre and another legendary Packer quarterback, Bart Starr, in the Hall of Fame when his career is over.
Terrell Suggs, LB, Arizona Cardinals
An Arizona State alum, Terrell Suggs is returning to Arizona after signing with the Cardinals this offseason following 16 years with the Ravens. During that time, he has accumulated 132.5 sacks, which is the most among active players and 13th all-time, with a chance to move into the top 10 with just a handful of sacks this season. Suggs’ 193 tackles for loss are No. 1 all-time.
Adam Vinatieri, K, Indianapolis Colts
Despite what some veterans think, kickers are NFL players, and Vinatieri is one of the best ever. There aren’t many kickers in the Hall of Fame, but Vinatieri will be when he finally hangs up his cleats. He’s 46 years old and doesn’t quite put up the same numbers he once did, but his career speaks for itself. He’s the all-time leader in points scored and field goals made, and he’s second in games played, extra points made, and field goals attempted. Like former teammate Brady, he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame, and he has a good shot at getting elected in his first year of eligibility.
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
J.J. Watt has played eight seasons in the league, two of which were injury-shortened and limited him to a total of eight games, and his stats are putting him on a trajectory straight toward Canton. His 92 sacks are the fourth most among active players, and he’s fifth all-time with 154 tackles for loss. Those are impressive numbers, which would be even higher if he wasn’t sidelined with his back injuries in 2016 and 2017.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Last season, Jason Witten wouldn’t have made this list because he was retired and in the Monday Night Football booth. But after critics panned his MNF performance, he is back on the field hoping to help the Cowboys win their first Super Bowl in more than two decades. With his return, Witten is delaying his Hall eligibility, but he’s also going to be able to add to his already-impressive career stats, which would already be enough for him to punch his ticket to Canton.