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Former Super Bowl MVP, New England Patriots mainstay Julian Edelman retires from NFL

Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY
·4 min read
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Longtime New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is putting a cap on his football career.

After the franchise terminated Edelman’s contract earlier Monday under the designation of a failed physical, Edelman announced his retirement from football in a video posted to his Twitter account.

“Nothing in my career has ever come easy,” Edelman said in the video. “And, no surprise, this is going to be easy, either. Now I’ve always said, I’m going to go until the wheels come off, and they have finally fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football.

“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot.”

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Edelman, 34, had played all 11 of his NFL seasons in New England and currently ranks fourth on the team’s all-time career receiving yards list with 6,822. His 620 receptions rank second in franchise history.

Edelman was instrumental in helping the Patriots win three Super Bowl championships and is perhaps best known for an improbable catch he made against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 that helped secure New England’s victory after it had trailed by 25 points in the third quarter.

He was also named Super Bowl 53 MVP after recording 10 catches for 141 yards in New England's 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a 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. 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."

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In 19 playoff games, he caught 118 passes for 1,442 yards, ranking second only to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in career postseason totals for both categories.

Widely known as one of the league's top slot receivers throughout his career with the Patriots, Edelman became one of former quarterback Tom Brady’s most trusted targets during the duo's time together.

Edelman, however, had dealt with several nagging injuries over the last few seasons, including a knee issue that had kept his future in New England in doubt. He had appeared in just six games last season, catching 21 passes for 315 yards.

Originally a quarterback when he came out of Kent State in the 2009 NFL draft, Edelman converted to receiver after the Patriots selected him in the seventh round with the No. 232 overall pick.

He toiled behind former Patriots slot wide out Wes Welker during his four seasons in New England. But once the Patriots decided before the 2013 season to move on from Welker and let him walk in free agency, Edelman took on a much larger role with the team. That year, he caught 105 of 151 targets for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns — all of which were team highs.

From then on, he became a trusted weapon of Brady's and was instrumental in New England's success.

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) reacts as he runs onto the field before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) reacts as he runs onto the field before a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots also drew on Edelman's days as a quarterback and often sprinkled in trick plays in which he threw double passes. In the regular season, he completed all six of his career attempted passes — all of which have come in the last three seasons — for 128 yards and one touchdown.

He also completed a 51-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to former receiver Danny Amendola that tied a divisional round game against the Ravens in 2015. New England went on to win that game, 35-31.

“For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player,” Belichick said. “He could, and did, do everything – catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle – all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance. Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him.”

But as Brady moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and the Patriots transitioned to Cam Newton as his replacement, the Patriots offense struggled as a lack of top-line talent and injuries depleted the skill positions.

“It has been the best 12 years of my life,” Edelman said. “It was a hell of a run. I can’t forget you, Patriot Nation. You guys have welcomed me and my family to a region we didn’t know. But now, I’m one of you. I’m going to leave you guys with two words: Foxborough Forever.”

Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Julian Edelman, New England Patriots' standout WR, retires from NFL