It’s not often you see a career like Julian Edelman’s.
From playing quarterback at Kent State to being drafted in the sixth round to play wide receiver and special teams to replacing Wes Welker and becoming one of the best slot receivers of this generation, Edelman has done it all.
To look back at the long-haired punt returner back in 2009 and say that he was going to be second all-time in postseason receptions and yards behind only Jerry Rice would be blasphemous. Yet, here we are.
At 34 years old, Edelman’s career can be called a successful one. However, with his 2020 season cut short due to injury, the team’s performance, and his age, many are wondering what’s the next step for the wide receiver.
He still clearly has the ability to put on a show. In the Week 2 matchup against the Seahawks, Edelman recorded a career-high 179 yards on eight receptions. The dominant performance was against one of the league’s worst defenses, but it proved he was still himself when he was healthy.
Edelman, even if not playing at the same level he had in the past, is still under contract for a team-friendly price of $6.1 million on the cap with only $4 million in new money, according to Over the Cap. That’s nothing.
If Edelman wants to continue playing for the Patriots, that number shouldn’t be something that prevents that — at least from the team’s perspective.
The real question comes from his aspirations.
First of all, Edelman may want more money. But then there’s the question of whether he wants to keep playing in New England. It isn’t exactly the powerhouse that it was were during the Tom Brady era, and, as competitive of a guy as Edelman is, losing probably didn’t sit well with him. With his best friend playing down in Tampa Bay, there have been some legitimate thoughts about him going somewhere else or calling it quits.
Fuel was thrown on the retirement fire earlier this week when Edelman gushed about his love for Boston on social media. However, it doesn’t seem like Edelman to walk away from the game following an injury that he never got to come back from. It feels like a competitor of his nature would want to return and show the world that he can still be Julian Edelman at 35 years old following an injury that caused him to miss 10 games.
Going to another team isn’t totally out of the question, though.
The Patriots could release or trade Edelman. The Buccaneers could be looking for another option if Chris Godwin is lured away in free agency. Having Mike Evans to take some of the pressure off him would open up things for Edelman similar to when Rob Gronkowski was in New England. And, who knows, Gronkowski and Antonio Brown could be back for another season too, making for another year of Pro Bowl level talent all around Brady in Tampa.
At the end of the day, Edelman’s story has been an incredible one through his 11 seasons in the NFL. If he decides that this is the end of his journey, he will find himself with a red jacket on soon enough. But, it feels just like Edelman to come back for one final run, and fans would love for that run to be in New England.