Later in the day, the veteran who entered the league via the seventh round of the 2009 draft confirmed he's played his last game:
Edelman, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LIII who turns 35 years old next month, was limited to six games last season, and previous reports suggested he would either miss considerable time this fall or not be able to play at all during the 2021 campaign following knee surgery.
The Patriots thanked Edelman shortly after he tweeted his video announcement:
"Julian Edelman is one of the great success stories in our franchise's history," Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said for the prepared statement. "There aren't many players who earn an NFL roster spot at a position they have never played before. Julian not only did that as a seventh-round draft selection, but he is retiring with the second-most career receptions in franchise history and as a three-time Super Bowl Champion, including his last as Super Bowl MVP. No one was more committed to his craft and honing his skills than Jules. His explosiveness off the line, quickness in his cuts and elusiveness after the catch made him one of the hardest players to defend throughout his career. His clutch catches in our biggest games and overall toughness made him a fan favorite. Over the past 12 years, I have enjoyed watching him grow as a player, as a person and as a father. In 2019, I had the privilege of traveling to Israel with Julian, which might be the only place where he is more popular than here in New England."
Edelman recorded 10 receptions for 141 yards en route to earning MVP honors in the Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams. He retires second only to Jerry Rice (151) in NFL history with 118 postseason catches.
"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all," New England head coach Bill Belichick added. "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. For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player. 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."
Debates about his Hall of Fame credentials had already begun on social media before he announced his retirement.