Julian Edelman is done with the NFL. Well, he’s done playing, that is.
The New England Patriots wide receiver, who won a trio of Super Bowl rings and the Super Bowl MVP award for Super Bowl LIII with the team, announced his retirement from the NFL after an illustrious 12-year career in a video posted to his social media channels with the caption ‘Foxboro Forever’.
Edelman leaves the game having played for no other team but the Patriots, making him a member of a dying breed of one-club men. The wideout always showed loyalty to the franchise that took a shot on an unknown quarterback out of Kent State in the seventh round way back in 2009.
“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot.”
The NFL world was thrown into semi-chaos before Edelman released his video, as the NFL transaction wire showed that the Patriots had terminated the veteran’s contract, which led many to speculate on a reunion in Tampa Bay with Brady and Gronk. In light of Edelman’s announcement, it’s clear now that the roster move was nothing but a technicality involved in the retirement, a source told ESPN.
The loss of Edelman will be one that is certainly felt by the Patriots, as they will be without a quick, shifty, and reliable slot guy for the first time in over a decade, with Wes Welker filling that role for the Pats before Edelman.
However, at 34 years old, it seems unlikely that Edelman would’ve swayed New England’s chances too heavily either way, and their odds to win the AFC East on 888sport remain at modest +350 NFL odds, sitting behind both the Miami Dolphins (+300) and the favored Buffalo Bills (-149).
Edelman was severely limited last season by what turned out to be a chronic knee issue, appearing in only six games in the first season of the post-Brady era in Foxboro—though Edelman did prove he could still do it with a 179-yard performance in Week 2. In his video, the 12-year veteran cited that injury as a major factor in his decision.
“Nothing in my career has ever come easy and no surprise, this isn’t going to be easy either,” Edelman said. “I’ve always said, ‘I’ll go until the wheels come off.’ And they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football.”
Since Edelman was able to have his contract terminated because of a failed physical, he will now be eligible for the injury protection benefit, according to the CBA. The Kent State alumnus can collect up to $2 million through this benefit.
Edelman always played his best ball in the biggest moments, retiring sitting tied in second all-time with six career postseason 100-yard games. He leaves the league also ranking second on the all-time list for playoff receptions (118) and playoff receiving yards (1,442), sitting behind only the great Jerry Rice in both categories.
The Redwood City, California native is perhaps best known for his gravity-defying snag during his team’s successful and legendary comeback bid against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
After a Tom Brady pass was tipped up, Edelman lunged between three Falcons defenders to make the crucial snag just before the ball hit the ground to keep the comeback bid alive. Two years later he would snare 10 balls for 141 yards in New England’s Super Bowl LIII triumph, earning MVP honors in the process.
Brady took to social media upon hearing the announcement to voice his feelings about his former teammate’s retirement.
“On the biggest stage and in the biggest moments, you always came through,” Brady wrote in a tweet. “You never lost that chip on your shoulder and you never let anyone define you as a person or player. I’m proud of you Jules. Love you.”
His former quarterback wasn’t the only one sharing a glowing recollection of Edelman’s career after the wideout’s announcement, with Edelman also earning big-time praise from his head coach in New England, Bill Belichick.
“By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career — wins, championships, production — Julian has it all,” Belichick said via a team statement. “Few players can match Julian’s achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out.”
Edelman was often used like a swiss-army knife by the Patriots, rushing 58 times for 413 yards (both Patriots records for WRs), while also showing off his passing ability when the time was right, going 7-for-8 for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating through the air his career.
First and foremost, however, Edelman, who had become the first-ever Jewish Super Bowl MVP with that hardware from 2018, was a receiving threat for Brady, Belichick, and the Boston football faithful. He finished his career with 620 catches (second in Pats history), 6,822 receiving yards (fourth), and 36 receiving touchdowns during his dozen years at Gillette Stadium.