Ex-Patriot Julian Edelman attempts to squash NFL comeback rumors

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Darren Hartwell
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Should Julian Edelman's comments squash NFL comeback rumors? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Julian Edelman can blame Rob Gronkowski.

The former New England Patriots tight end shockingly retired after the 2018 season, only to return in 2020 to win a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

So, when Edelman announced his retirement earlier this month, many wondered whether to take the veteran wide receiver at face value. Even Gronkowski gave Edelman strong odds of coming out of retirement to reunite with his old pals in Tampa Bay.

Patriots Talk Podcast: The intellectual dishonesty of the anti-Edelman argument | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

But during a recent appearance on Barstool Sports' "Pardon My Take" podcast, Edelman sounded at peace with his decision.

"It's almost satisfying because I left everything on the field, honestly," Edelman said. "I'm not a greedy guy. What else do I have to play for?

"I set out to go out and make a team, try to win some championships, and honestly I have accomplished everything plus more than I ever thought I would've going into my rookie year."

Edelman is correct on the accomplishments front: The seventh-round draft pick won three Super Bowl titles and a Super Bowl MVP award while far exceeding anyone's expectations.

But Gronkowski also won three championships in New England and decided to return for another go-round. So, why wouldn't Edelman follow in Gronk's footsteps?

The 34-year-old insisted he's not healthy enough to keep playing.

Curran: Edelman is hanging them up with nothing left to prove

"I'm not gonna go out there and try to play ... where you look like a bobblehead out there, like a 36-year-old old guy lacing up the knee brace, the back brace. I don't want to have that," Edelman said. "I don't want to look like that. I respect the game too much; it's been too good to me.

"So it's one of those things where if I can't go out there and be the player that I know I am in this league and that I've been for a consistent period of time, you know, I have no problem walking away because I enjoyed the time that I did have in this league."

As our Tom E. Curran wrote recently, Edelman had been dealing with a knee injury for years and exacerbated the ailment last season against the San Francisco 49ers in what might have been the final straw.

Is there a slight chance that Edelman feels healthy enough to play in 2022 after taking a full year off to rest and rehabilitate his knee? We suppose. But it sounds like that chance is very, very low.