Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman Announces Retirement

Shortly after the Patriots released Julian Edelman, the accomplished wide receiver revealed he will not attempt to play for another team. The 12-year veteran announced his retirement Monday afternoon (video link).

The Pats cut Edelman with a failed-physical designation, doing so after he missed 10 games due to a knee injury last season. As recently as late February, Edelman wanted to play a 13th season. But the 34-year-old pass catcher had not fully recovered from the knee injury he battled last year, and the Patriots signed four new aerial weapons — wideouts Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry — last month. However, Edelman may not be easy to replace. He operated as the top wideout for six playoff-bound Patriot teams during the 2010s and was a significant part in the franchise winning three more Super Bowls during the decade.

Edelman did not hold an extensive role in New England’s offense until his fifth season, which came after Wes Welker signed with the Broncos in 2013, and never made a Pro Bowl. He missed the 2017 season, incurred a four-game PED ban in 2018 and was considerably limited in 2015 and ’20 as well. Regular-season availability notwithstanding, dominated in playoff opportunities and still ranks second in Patriots history with 620 regular-season receptions — behind only Welker’s 672.

By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out. Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances.”

During the 2018 postseason — one Edelman concluded by winning Super Bowl LIII MVP acclaim — the former Kent State quarterback surpassed Michael Irvin on the playoff receiving yardage list. Only Jerry Rice compiled more postseason yards than Edelman (1,442). While Edelman did play in 19 postseason games, only 14 of those came after Welker’s departure opened up a role for him on offense. En route to three Super Bowl titles, Edelman posted six 100-yard playoff games. The former seventh-round pick’s top two playoff yardage performances came two years ago, when he amassed 151 in a rout of the Chargers and 141 in New England’s defense-fueled win over the Rams.

A touchdown pass from the former college QB also did plenty to ensure the Patriots could add to their ring total in the 2010s. Edelman’s touchdown toss to Danny Amendola propelled New England past Baltimore in the 2014 divisional round, and Edelman added a receiving TD in the Patriots’ come-from-behind Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks. Edelman did not score or surpass 100 yards in the Pats’ record-setting comeback win over the Falcons, but his tipped reception on a game-tying drive kept the team’s storied rally in play. The slot receiver’s absence in Super Bowl LII proved pivotal as well, with the Patriots falling short as favorites against the Eagles.

Despite the postseason success, Edelman never earned more than $8MM in average annual salary. He signed five Patriots contracts — the most recent a two-year, $15.5MM deal in 2019 — but was never among the NFL’s highest-paid receivers. Prior to the 2017 ACL tear, a foot injury limited Edelman to nine games in 2015. He will be eligible for up to $2MM in injury protection funds, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The lack of a Pro Bowl honor and a short run as an offensive weapon will almost certainly keep Edelman out of the Hall of Fame. The 12-year veteran sits 156th on the league’s all-time receiving yards list (6,822). But he proved essential to the second leg of the Patriots dynasty taking shape and will be remembered as one of the great postseason performers in NFL history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Release Julian Edelman

After 12 seasons, the Patriots may well be cutting ties with Julian Edelman. They released their longtime slot receiver on Monday, according to the NFL’s transaction wire.

The Pats released Edelman with a failed-physical designation. Edelman has mulled retirement this offseason, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. Such an announcement may follow. The veteran wideout, who will turn 35 in May, has continued to battle knee trouble this year, Doug Kyed of NESN.com tweets.

Barring a reunion, this will close the book on one of the more interesting careers in the history of the Patriots and the receiver position. The 5-foot-10 wideout has not made a Pro Bowl and did not have much of a role on offense until his fifth season, but he has the second-most playoff receiving yards in NFL history (1,442) — behind only Jerry Rice‘s 2,245 — and was integral to the Pats’ passing game for the past several years.

Injuries, however, have limited Edelman in recent years. He missed 10 games last season and underwent knee surgery late in the year. The 12th-year receiver, who missed the 2017 season with a torn ACL, caught 21 passes for 315 yards and no touchdowns in the franchise’s first post-Tom Brady campaign.

Struggling for much of the Bill Belichick era to identify receiver talent early in drafts, the Patriots took a flier on a quarterback from Kent State in the 2009 seventh round. While All-Pro Wes Welker was still in the heart of his dominant run as New England’s primary slot weapon, Edelman took the reins ahead of his fifth season. Welker’s Denver defection began Edelman’s ascent, and he played a pivotal role in the second leg of New England’s dynasty.

Edelman earned MVP honors in Super Bowl LIII, has six 100-yard receiving games in the playoffs — including two such outings in Super Bowls — and made the defining catch of his career against the Falcons to help the Pats erase a 28-3 deficit to win their fifth championship. The former MAC passer/ball carrier produced three 1,000-yard seasons, with his most recent coming for an embattled Patriots passing attack in Brady’s final New England slate.

This release will tag the Pats with $2.7MM in dead money while also creating just more than $3MM in cap space. The team made changes to its receiver room this offseason, signing Nelson Agholor at a surprisingly high rate and adding Kendrick Bourne. The Patriots also signed tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry and are likely set to deploy plenty of two-tight end sets. Even so, subtracting Edelman from this situation still leaves the team with somewhat of a need at the receiver position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Patriots WR Julian Edelman

We heard yesterday that the Patriots will be welcoming back three key players in 2021, but another veteran’s outlook remains uncertain. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that veteran wideout Julian Edelman will continue rehabbing and recovering from a knee injury that shortened his 2020 campaign.

[RELATED: Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon To Return]

Rapoport notes that Edelman still wants to play next season, but the main concern is if his knee will be able to hold up to the rigors of another NFL season. No decision has been made, but Edelman’s status in 2021 will be directly attributed to his health. If he feels like he’s overcome his knee injury, he’ll likely be on the field.

The 34-year-old appeared in New England’s first six games of the 2020 season. Thanks (in part) to the fact that he was seeing targets from the likes of Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, and Brian Hoyer instead of Tom Brady, Edelman struggled to put up consistent numbers. Other than an eight-catch, 179-yard performance in Week 2, the wideout was limited to only 13 receptions for 136 yards and no scores in his other five games.

Of course, the former Super Bowl MVP is only one season removed from a 1,000-yard campaign, so it may be too early to write off Edelman. The veteran is also the only reliable receiving option currently on New England’s roster; former first-rounder N’Keal Harry has struggled through his first two NFL seasons, and the team is otherwise eyeing former undrafted free agents Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski for the top of the depth chart. If Edelman is healthy enough to play next season, we should set a statistical rebound.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Julian Edelman To Return In 2021?

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman played in just six games in 2020 thanks to a knee injury, and there has been plenty of speculation that the three-time Super Bowl champ will elect to call it a career. But it doesn’t sound as if he’s contemplating retirement just yet.

In a recent interview on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast (h/t Doug Kyed of NESN.com), Edelman was asked if he would “reconsider” his decision to retire. Edelman replied, “What are you talking about? Right now we’re being a dad right now and we’re sitting back and training, getting our body right for the next year.”

Of course, his reference to getting his body right for next year is hardly a definitive declaration that he will return to the field, especially since he later said he is just “decompressing” for the time being and doesn’t “necessarily” know what the interviewer meant when he brought up the topic of retirement. Nonetheless, Kyed believes all signs are pointing towards an Edelman return.

The Patriots’ receiving corps left much to be desired in 2020, and Edelman’s absence made an already bleak situation even worse. So while the Pats could cut their franchise icon and save $4MM of cap space in the process, one would think that if Edelman wants to play, New England will be happy to have him, even if his age and the wear-and-tear on his body force him into a more limited role. Plus, the club will already be flush with cap space, so the extra $4MM it would save with an Edelman release probably wouldn’t be worth it.

The Pats could use some of their cap room to sign a free agent wideout or two, as the market is likely to have a few appealing options. Players like Kenny Golladay and Chris Godwin could get hit with the franchise tag or sign extensions with their current clubs before free agency opens, but a decrease in the salary cap might make that more difficult. Meanwhile, Allen Robinson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Corey Davis might all be marketing their services in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Updates: Goff, Rams, Murray, Cardinals, 49ers, Mixon, Bengals, Watkins, Chiefs, Edelman, Patriots

Things have gotten ugly for Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense the last couple of weeks, with back to back losses to the Jets and Seahawks in which Goff played poorly. Making matters worse, Los Angeles’ quarterback dislocated and broke his thumb during the loss to Seattle. It looks like there are a wide range of outcomes moving forward, with everything from Goff playing this Sunday to being out for the remainder of the season being on the table. Goff will require surgery on the thumb at some point but he’s hoping to push it back until after the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (Twitter video link).

Rapsheet says that Goff is “adamant” about pushing to play in Week 17 and that he at least has a “shot” to be under center. If the Bears lose to the Packers on Sunday then the Rams are in the playoffs no matter what, but if Chicago beats Green Bay then the Rams will need to beat the Cardinals to get in. It sounds like Goff is going to try to push through and suit up for the playoffs even if he isn’t able to be out there on Sunday. Goff is meeting with specialist Dr. Steven Shin today, the same doctor who treated Drew Brees‘ thumb injury last year, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Obviously Brees missed a handful of games with that injury last year, although hopefully for the Rams this isn’t as severe. If Goff is forced to miss the game against Arizona, it’ll mean the first regular season NFL action for former Wake Forest and AAF star John Wolford.

Here are more health issues from around the league entering the final week of the season:

  • Goff isn’t the only banged up quarterback in this pivotal game. Kyler Murray has already dealt with a lingering shoulder injury this season, and he also hurt his leg at the end of Arizona’s Week 16 loss to San Francisco. Speaking to the media Monday head coach Kliff Kingsbury was vague, only deeming it a “lower leg” injury and saying they won’t put Murray out there if he can’t be effective. If the Cards win on Sunday, they’re in. If they don’t, they’re out. In a game of this magnitude, you have to figure Murray is going to play if it’s at all possible, but right now Kingsbury is saying it’s up in the air. This will be a situation to monitor closely, but either way it sounds like Murray is going to be at less than 100 percent against Aaron Donald and co.
  • One last dispatch from the NFC West. The 49ers picked up an upset of the Cardinals, but their injury-plagued season continued. They dropped at least two more starters, as rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk and left tackle Trent Williams both won’t play in Week 17 due to injuries they suffered against Arizona, Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Shanahan also said he’d be shocked if Jimmy Garoppolo plays this weekend, meaning C.J. Beathard should get another crack at it. Aiyuk has flashed a lot of promise, and 49ers fans have to be excited about his 2021 potential. It’s possible we’ve seen Garoppolo play his last snap as a 49er.
  • Joe Mixon‘s 2020 campaign is officially in the books. The Bengals running back won’t play this weekend, head coach Zac Taylor confirmed Monday. Mixon hasn’t played since all the way back in Week 6 due to a foot injury, but the team kept insisting he was only week to week this whole time. Mixon signed a four-year, $48MM extension back in September, so he’s in Cincy for the long-haul.
  • Chiefs fans can breathe a little easier. Receiver Sammy Watkins went down with a calf injury yesterday, but Rapoport tweets it isn’t believed to be major. Given Watkins’ injury history, that’s a big relief. Rapoport writes that Watkins will rest in Week 17, but that there’s a “good chance” he’s back for Kansas City’s first playoff game.
  • Another player whose season, and quite possibly career, is over: Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. Rapoport tweets that Edelman won’t be activated for tonight’s Monday Night Football showdown with the Bills, and that it’s “unlikely” he plays next week either. Edelman is under contract for next season but he’ll turn 35 in May, so it’s entirely fair to wonder whether he’ll end up retiring. The legendary Patriot, who has spent all 12 years of his career in New England, was limited to only six games this year due to a knee injury.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/10/20

Here are Thursday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: RB A.J. Dillon; Dillon had been on the Packers’ virus list since testing positive Nov. 2

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

  • Promoted: K Austin MacGinnis

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC East Notes: Edelman, Jets, Dolphins

Matthew Slater is in the midst of his 13th NFL season. With the Patriots currently spending a week on the West Coast, the California (and UCLA) product is appreciating what could be the final homecoming of his career.

“I don’t know how many more chances I’m going to have to play football in California, where my dreams started as a kid. It certainly means a lot,” Slater told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “For our team, it’s another game, and they’ll be the two biggest games of the season. It certainly carries a little extra significance for me, especially the second one, needless to say.”

Yesterday’s game against the Chargers marked Slater’s first game in Los Angeles since his final season at UCLA in 2007. As Reiss notes, Slater’s father, Jackie, spent 19 of his 20 NFL seasons playing in Los Angeles for the Rams.

The 35-year-old special teams ace has spent his entire career on the opposite coast in New England. Slater has earned three Super Bowl rings, eight Pro Bowl appearances, and five first-team All-Pro nods. He also earned a spot on New England’s 2010s All-Decade Team.

Some more notes out of the AFC East…

  • One of Slater’s teammates won’t be returning to the field very soon. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that wideout Julian Edelman is “still a couple of weeks” away from rejoining the Patriots. The 34-year-old landed on IR back in October after undergoing knee surgery, and he was recently placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Edelman, who has 21 receptions for 315 yards this season, is still planning to play again in 2020, according to Schefter.
  • A surprising name has popped up as a potential suitor for the inevitable head coaching vacancy with the Jets. WFAN radio host Boomer Esiason suggested that former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher could be an option for New York. “He was saying to me yesterday, he’s the one that told me the Jets job is going to be really attractive, and they could hire whomever they want, and he told me he loves [G.M.] Joe Douglas,” Esiason said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). Cowher hasn’t coached since the 2006 season. He currently holds a 149-90 record, and he won a Super Bowl championship with Pittsburgh in 2005.
  • The Dolphins auditioned running back Elijah McGuire recently, according to Schefter (on Twitter). The former Jets sixth-round pick has bounced around the NFL a bit, including a stint on the Cowboys practice squad that ended back in October. The 26-year-old has appeared in 24 career games (five starts), rushing for 591 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also added 36 receptions for 370 yards and two scores.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/30/20

We’ll post all the minor moves from what has been a very busy Monday here:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

 

Injury Updates: Bridgewater, Panthers, Brees, Saints, Edelman, Patriots

Fortunately today looks like a (relatively) clean Sunday in terms of NFL injuries. We’re still tracking a couple of important quarterbacks though, and we’ve got a few updates to offer as the Week 10 slate winds down:

  • All eyes are on Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers now after Bridgewater suffered a knee injury during Carolina’s loss to Tampa Bay. Bridgewater underwent an MRI immediately after the game, somewhat of a departure from a usual Monday MRI, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets. While the team clearly wanted to rush him in, fortunately the “initial word” on the injury is that “it’s not serious,” Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet adds that a source told him they’re not even ruling Bridgewater out for next week yet. More good news is, as Mortensen points out, the injury is to his right knee which is not the one that was completely torn up during his devastating 2016 injury. All that being said, it sounds like there’s a good chance that former XFL star P.J. Walker gets one or more starts under center for Carolina. They’ll play the Lions next week.
  • Bridgewater wasn’t the only NFC South passer to get banged up, as Drew Brees didn’t play the second half of the Saints’ win over the 49ers due to a rib injury. Brees took a big hit late in the first half and initially stayed in the game before telling Sean Payton at halftime that he wouldn’t be able to continue. Speaking to the media after the game Brees was vague, and described his injury as an “accumulative thing,” via Jeff Nowak of NOLA.com (Twitter video link). He’s been listed on the injury report with a shoulder injury, and Brees made it sound like the issue is a combination of things rather than one specific ailment. It’ll be very interesting to monitor this situation going forward, and to see if Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill would become the starter if he has to miss time. Winston filled in on Sunday, completing 6/10 passes for 63 yards.
  • The Patriots have been widely criticized for the lack of weapons they’ve provided Cam Newton, but fortunately help could be on the way soon. Julian Edelman, sidelined since undergoing a knee procedure a couple of weeks ago, seems to be recovering well. Mike Reiss of ESPN.com heard some “optimism from those close” to Edelman, who said he’s been moving well in recent on-field work. It’s too early to say for sure, but it sounds from Reiss’ blurb that Edelman has a real chance to return in Week 11 when first eligible against the Texans.

Patriots Notes: Gilmore, Newton, Edelman

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is usually tight-lipped when it comes to, well, just about everything, but he was quite candid in discussing his team’s struggles this season. The 2-4 Pats are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak since 2002, and Belichick suggested that one of his club’s goals in 2020 was to get right with the salary cap after years of heavy investments.

“This is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years,” Belichick said (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com). “We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years.”

In addition to their league-leading eight COVID-19 opt-outs, the Pats are carrying about $26MM of dead cap charges this season, and as Reiss indicated back in March, the club’s financial picture in 2021 is much brighter. New England may be taking its lumps in 2020, but it is still lurking in the AFC East and is eyeing a major rebound next year.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Stephon Gilmore‘s name has come up in trade rumors, but Reiss says the Pats are not actively shopping their star corner, which is consistent with what we heard several days ago. However, the ESPN scribe suggests that Belichick could be willing to listen if a rival club were to offer a first- or second-round draft choice. Assuming that does not happen, then Gilmore is likely to finish out the season with New England. The two sides would need to address his contract situation at that point, as Gilmore is under club control through 2021 and will be seeking a healthy extension.
  • As of this writing, the Patriots have not done much to suggest that they will be sellers at this week’s trade deadline, but if they fall to the division-rival Bills today, that could change, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms.
  • QB Cam Newton was benched in a blowout loss to the 49ers last week, and though the time he missed due to COVID-19 certainly could explain his recent struggles, the Pats are still alarmed by the number of mistakes he’s making, per Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (video link). While Newton’s job is not in imminent danger, he could lose the starting gig if he does not turn it around soon.
  • New England’s WR depth chart, which is already quite thin, took another hit when Julian Edelman was placed on IR with a knee injury. Belichick said he expects the veteran pass catcher to be back this season, but several people close to Edelman have their doubts, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Edelman’s knee has been bothering him for awhile, and although his recent surgery helped alleviate some discomfort, the knee is still bone-on-bone. The Pats could save $4MM against the cap by moving on from the 34-year-old at season’s end, and one wonders if he might have played his last game for New England.
  • In an effort to bolster their WR group, the Pats plan to have veteran wideout Donte Moncrief come in for a workout, per Reiss (via Twitter). The former third-rounder has generally struggled to live up to expectations in his career, and he was recently released off the Jets’ practice squad. Given Gang Green’s own receiver issues, that’s not a good sign, but Moncrief is only 27 and still possesses plenty of physical tools.
  • In addition to Moncrief, the Pats are also bringing in fellow WR Darius Jennings and DT Ryan Glasgow, according to Reiss. Albert Breer of SI.com says the team recently hosted FB Roosevelt Nix (Twitter link).