Former longtime NFL player David Patten has died at 47 years old ... after he was involved in a motorcycle accident on Thursday, TMZ Sports has confirmed.
Law enforcement tells us the crash happened around 9:45 PM ... and Patten was pronounced dead on the scene.
Police say Patten -- on his motorcycle -- "traveled left of center" and struck a Chevrolet Sedan. The Chevy then sideswiped a Honda. The driver of the Chevrolet was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Patten had a wonderful football career ... winning 3 rings with the Pats in the early 2000s. David caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI -- helping TB12 win his 1st ring.
It was an improbable path for the 5'10" receiver ... he went undrafted out of Western Carolina in 1996 ... before signing with an Arena Football League squad.
He only played arena ball for 1 season before catching on with the NY Giants. Patten spent 3 seasons with the G-Men, and 1 with the Cleveland Browns before signing with the Pats in 2001.
Patten won 3 Super Bowls in New England ... before leaving in 2004. Patten played several more season in New Orleans and Washington before retiring. He ultimately played 12 seasons in the NFL.
Since hanging up his cleats, Patten had been living with his wife in South Carolina ... the state where he was born.
Many of Patten's famous teammates have expressed condolences following his death.
Richard Seymour wrote ... "heartbroken 💔 great man of God… lost for words - David Patten… 🙏🏽"
Deion Branchalso weighed in on the terrible news ... "🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 Great Player, but Most of All A Great Man, Mentor and Brother #LoveYou #ChiefChief"
David's former coach, Charlie Weis, also talked about the loss of his former player.
"Shocked and saddened about the sudden tragic death of David Patten. Excellent player, even better person. Family guy, team guy, devout Christian. Prayers all directed this way. RIP David. You will be sorely missed."