When discussing the best wide receivers in New England Patriots history, you have to consider Julian Edelman near the top. Many would probably have him No. 1.
The beloved Edelman battled through knee issues and a disappointing overall campaign in 2020, and he finished the season on injured reserve.
Based on the Patriots’ need to get younger at receiver, Edelman’s age (34), and his contract situation, there was already a question as to whether he’d return to the team in 2021.
After a recent social media post, there is even more mystery and speculation surrounding Edelman’s return to the Patriots, a departure to a new team, or perhaps even his retirement.
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Edelman: “Boston, I Love You”
Edelman responded to a fan and offered perhaps a bit more than expected when he dropped this tweet below:
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) January 13, 2021
The emojis in the tweet makes reference to the 3 Super Bowl rings he’s won with the Patriots, and the tone does sound a bit like a farewell. We don’t know if he has already spoken with Bill Belichick and gotten the unofficial word that he won’t be back. We also aren’t sure if he’s implying he’ll be walking away from the game entirely.
In any case, it would appear there is some sort of transition set to happen as it relates to Edelman.
Separation From Edelman Would Be a Positive for the Patriots
As great as Edelman has been with the Patriots throughout his career, he’s a shell of the player he once was. The 12-year veteran played in just 6 games in 2020 before a knee procedure sidelined him for the final 10 games of the season.
Edelman is headed into the final year of his salary, which is worth a $6.66 million cap hit, and a $2.67 million dead cap hit. That’s a pretty modest total, and the Patriots could save about $4 million if the 2 sides part ways. While the $4 million isn’t a fortune by NFL-cap-room standards, it is still significant enough of an amount that could play a role in signing a veteran wide receiver with more left in the tank than Edelman.
The receiver position is arguably the weakest unit on the Patriots roster, and they need all the assets they can get to address that hole as well as the others on the team.
If Edelman doesn’t elect to retire, though it would be strange to see him in another jersey, you’d have to believe he’d be interested in playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His good friends and long-time teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski bolted for the Tampa to begin the 2020 season, and Edelman appeared to take the exits fairly hard.
If there is any other team in the league he’d play for, it makes sense to project him reuniting with Brady and Gronk.
On the other hand, retirement seems pretty realistic as well. Edelman’s body appears to be breaking down, and he’s enjoyed so much success during his career, it’s easy to see him becoming frustrated with his current physical limitations. Edelman tried to get himself ready to return to the Patriots this season, but couldn’t seem to get healthy.
Perhaps his last appearance with the Patriots will be the final time we see him on the football field.
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