Julian Edelman announced whether he will join Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in five simple words on Thursday, May 20, ending months of speculation.
“I’m a one team guy,” Edelman said on The Michael Irvin Podcast.
Those words came in response to Edelman being asked about whether he would join the Bucs in 2021 if healthy. The 35-year-old spent his entire 12-year career with the New England Patriots, including 11 seasons with Brady.
Returning to the gridiron doesn’t look realistic anytime soon, confirmed Edelman, who dealt with chronic knee issues throughout 2020. He played only six games last season and said the wheels “have fallen off” in his April 12 retirement announcement.
“My knee’s breaking down, I’m not going to sit here, you know, I got everything I wanted,” Edelman told Irvin. “I got three rings, played in a magical dynasty, with an unbelievable franchise coach, best quarterback of all time, like, yo, I’m not a greedy guy. I played to win, I played to compete, I don’t need anything else to prove. I’m good with what I did, I left it all out on the field.”
Edelman won three Super Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP with the Patriots, catching 620 passes for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns in 137 career games (85 starts) overall.
The Gig Is up for Brady & Gronkowski
The announcement puts the kibosh on Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s persistent joking about a reunion in Tampa. Although, it was the former seventh-rounder who initiated the joking with an April Fools’ Day tweet alluding to joining Tampa Bay.
The joking continued the moment the Patriots terminated Edelman’s contract due to a failed physical as a precursor to retirement.
Media personalities such as Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson even tweeted about it, writing, “Next Boston to Tampa flight leaves in like 26 minutes.”
Gronkowski Said There Was a Chance
Gronkowski jumped on the Edelman-to-Tampa bandwagon this offseason by telling TMZ Sports on April 13 that there’s “a 69% chance” of Edelman joining them. The Bucs All-Pro tight end made sure to honor his former teammate, too, with a few unique adjectives.
“Furry. Cute. Elusive. Feisty. Congrats on retirement to the 3x champ squirrel,” Gronkowski wrote. “Honor playing with ya, whenever a big play was needed ya always came thru, my friend.”
Gronkowski used many of those same adjectives to describe his longtime teammate during an appearance on Fox Sports during a Patriots game against the New York Giants in 2019. The fun-loving tight end retired after the 2018 season before returning to the NFL via an April 2020 trade from New England to Tampa.
Because Gronkowski retired due to injuries and returned after a year away, he originally maintained his position that Edelman will unretire in a year, telling ESPN’s Mike Greenberg as much in early May.
“And I believe if Julian truly heals up and whatever’s hurting on him and he fully heals and feels good, I think he’ll be back eventually in the future maybe a year or two away,” Gronkowski said on Greeny. “Let me tell you, he’s just a competitor, so I say if he heals up 100 percent (and) feels good, I think he’ll be back in the NFL, but I don’t know what team (and) I don’t know where.”
Brady Kept Pitching During April’s NFL Draft-A-Thon
Brady had taken a more direct route on joking with Edelman. In an Instagram exchange regarding Brady’s number rule change comments, 43-year-old quarterback took the opportunity to rib Edelman about coming to Tampa.
Edelman wrote in the Instagram story, captured by CBS Sports Boston, that “12 is so 2001, (but) pi is eternal, just like you buddy.”
Brady replied on the story post, “Now that you are free agent Julian Edelman, are you buttering me up?”
The quarterback took it further at the NFL Draft-A-Thon, ribbing Edelman on live video.
“We know Julian didn’t retire,” Brady said, grinning. “He’s just too scared to tell Bill (Belichick) he wants to come to Tampa. I’ve been there.”
Edelman changed the subject.
“I see it’s Springtime for the Bradys because he has his little sailing strips on,” Edelman humorously replied, referring to Brady’s outfit. “You know, enjoying that wonderful weather there in Florida.”
Edelman confirmed with Irvin on Thursday he won’t be enjoying that same Florida weather as a member of the Bucs — or any NFL team for that matter.