The Pats cut Edelman with a failed-physical designation, doing so after he missed 10 games due to a knee injury last season. However, Edelman operated as the top wide receiver for six 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 as well and was considerably limited in 2015 and ’20. The slot target, however, dominated in playoff opportunities and still ranks second in Patriots history with 620 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 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. En route to three Super Bowl titles, Edelman posted six 100-yard playoff games. His top two yardage performances came in the 2018 postseason, 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. 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 win over the Seahawks. He 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. Edelman’s absence in Super Bowl LII proved pivotal as well, with the Patriots falling short as favorites against the Eagles.
The lack of a Pro Bowl honor and Edelman’s short run as an offensive weapon will almost certainly keep him out of the Hall of Fame. The 12-year veteran sits 156th on the league’s all-time receiving yards list. Still, 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.
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