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 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 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 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.

Bengals Claim TE Thaddeus Moss

Thaddeus Moss did not advance too far down the waiver priority list. The Bengals placed a successful claim on the former UDFA tight end Monday, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

Washington waived the second-generation pass catcher last week, doing so after Moss spent his would-be rookie season on IR. Now, the former LSU tight end will reunite with Joe Burrow. Both played their final college seasons in 2019, when the current Bengals quarterback soared to the Heisman Trophy while piloting a passing attack that included Moss, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The son of Randy Moss, Thaddeus has yet to play a regular-season down in the NFL. Washington waived him with an injury designation ahead of last season, and he passed through waivers to the team’s IR list.

A North Carolina State transfer, Thaddeus Moss contributed to Burrow’s 60-touchdown pass total in 2019. The 6-foot-3 junior caught 47 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those TDs came in LSU’s championship victory over Clemson. Moss declared for the draft after that season but was not selected in 2020.

This move proves interesting due to the Bengals’ tight end situation and the prospect of it preceding a full-on LSU passing-game reunion. The Bengals have been linked to Chase with their No. 5 overall pick. Burrow is believed to be in favor of a Chase reunion. Cincinnati has Drew Sample and C.J. Uzomah on its roster, but a flier on Moss makes sense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers To Sign Giovani Bernard

There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about what the Buccaneers’ backfield will look like between Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, but in the meantime they’ve added an outside option.

Tampa has agreed to a one-year deal with Giovani Bernard, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Bernard was released by the Bengals just last week, and Pelissero reports that Tom Brady and Bruce Arians both helped recruit him to Tampa Bay. Patriots running back James White apparently had interest in joining the Bucs as their third-down back before ultimately re-signing in New England, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets.

In the same tweet, Rapsheet notes that Bernard also had interest from the Chiefs, so he had his pick of last season’s Super Bowl teams. The Bucs have mostly prioritized locking up all of their own guys, and this is their first significant outside free agent signing of the spring.

He had been set to earn right around $4MM in Cincy in 2021, so it’ll be interesting to see if he beat that when we get the financial terms. A pass-catching specialist who ended up carrying the ball a lot this past year in the wake of Joe Mixon‘s injury, Bernard has 342 receptions for 2,867 yards since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2013.

The North Carolina product spent his first eight seasons with the Bengals. He’ll turn 30 in November, and he should see a lot of targets from Brady, who loves to check down to his ‘backs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Re-Sign Nate Hairston

It’s officially official. The Broncos have re-signed defensive back Nate Hairston, according to the league’s transactions wire.

Hairston, 26, was released by the Broncos on Thursday, but he wasn’t gone for long. The Broncos released him only as a procedural move — likely in order rework his contract.

Hairston, a 2017 fifth-round pick out of Temple, appeared in 27 games with the Colts through his first two seasons in the NFL, compiling 65 tackles, two sacks, and an interception. He was traded to the Jets for a conditional sixth-rounder in 2019 He wound up starting six of his eleven appearances for Gang Green that season.

The 26-year-old saw two games with the Jets last year before being dropped in October. He went to spend time with the Ravens’ practice squad before coming to Denver towards the end of the season. Hairston suited up for the Broncos’ final three games, primarily on special teams. Now, he’ll battle for his spot in camp behind newcomers Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. Of course, the cornerback group could also get more crowded between now and the fall — especially if the Broncos tap Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Caleb Farley with the No. 9 overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers To Re-Sign Ronald Blair

The 49ers are set to re-sign defensive lineman Ronald Blair, according to Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area. The deal – pending the outcome of his physical — will give Blair a chance to return after botched ACL surgery. 

Blair ruptured his ACL midway through the 2019 season, which should have given him enough time to return for 2020. Unfortunately, something went wrong while Blair was on the operating table, leaving him sidelined for the entire year.

Before all of that, the former 2016 fifth-round pick enjoyed a spot in the Niners’ defensive rotation, compiling 13.5 sacks across four seasons. This year, he could be in line for an even larger role, depending on how newcomer Samson Ebukam is used. The Niners deployed Ebukam as an outside linebacker, but could see more time up front in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Bring Back S Karl Joseph

Karl Joseph will return to the Raiders. The former Oakland first-round pick, who landed in Cleveland last year, agreed to terms with his former team Friday after trekking to Las Vegas for a visit.

The Raiders drafted Joseph in the 2016 first round and used him as a starting safety for most of his tenure. Joseph, who also visited the Steelers this offseason, will return to help fill the Silver and Black fill a major need.

This move comes nearly two years after the Raiders passed on Joseph’s 2020 option season. The West Virginia product’s initial Raiders run ended earlier, with a foot injury halting his 2019 season midway through. Joseph will now rejoin Johnathan Abrams on the Raiders’ defensive back line. These two started in Week 1 of the 2019 season, but Abrams’ season-ending injury that night made he and Joseph’s on-field time together brief.

Last season, Joseph started eight Browns games — out of the 14 he played — and finished with his worst Pro Football Focus assessment. PFF viewed Joseph as better during his Raiders seasons but slotted him outside the top 70 safeties last season. The 27-year-old defender made 67 tackles, intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles with Cleveland. He added a playoff interception in Kansas City, doing so after spending time on the Browns’ reserve/COVID-19 list late last season.

Las Vegas may still be in play for a safety in the draft, but Joseph minimizes that need. The Raiders have experienced rampant trouble in pass defense over the past decade and change; their issues last season led Jon Gruden to fire DC Paul Guenther. Gus Bradley will call the shots next season, giving Joseph a third defensive system in three seasons and a fourth over the past five. PFF graded Joseph as a top-25 safety in 2018, his most recent full season with the Raiders, and he has started 41 games with team. It should be expected he will add to that total in 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Washington Waives Thaddeus Moss, 4 Others

Washington’s Thaddeus Moss UDFA signing generated interest due to the team’s need at the tight end position at the time and the name-brand appeal the LSU alum carried. But Moss did not play last season, spending it on IR. He is now on the waiver wire.

Washington waived the second-generation pro Friday. In addition to the Moss cut, Washington cut defensive lineman Caleb Brantley. The former late-round pick opted out of the 2020 season.

The son of Hall of Famer Randy Moss, Thaddeus was part of LSU’s historically explosive offense in 2019. He joined Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Terrace Marshall Jr. as a key Tigers pass catcher that season, hauling in 47 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those came in the national championship game.

After doctors discovered a fracture in Moss’ foot at the Combine, he missed extensive training camp time. Washington waived him with an injury designation ahead of last season. He spent the season on Washington’s IR list. Although Washington was light at the tight end position going into last season, ex-quarterback Logan Thomas broke through and filled that need.

The Browns drafted Brantley in the 2017 sixth round, but the former Florida Gator has not seen much action as a pro. After recording two sacks in 12 games as a rookie, Brantley has played in just eight over the past three years. Washington also waived wide receiver Emanuel Hall and running backs Javon Leake and Michael Warren on Friday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.