WR Julian Edelman has already reached a career high in receptions.
Against the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets, Edelman became the first player since "Bullet" Bob Hayes in 1968 to notch receiving and return touchdowns in consecutive games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN.com.
Unfortunately for Edelman, he soon went on injured reserve with a broken foot, part of a litany of injuries for the fifth-year converted receiver out of Kent State.
As a result of those injuries, Edelman, who was a free agent this past offseason, received very little interest, despite having one of the highest punt return averages in NFL history and his ability to play cornerback when needed, as he did in 2011 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ultimately, Edelman returned to New England on a one-year contract. According to Field Yates of ESPN.com, his salary is the veteran-minimum $715,000. His contract also carries a total of $250,000 in incentives tied to his reception total for the season:
|After Edelman's||He earns a bonus of||For a total of|
Edelman, who currently is tied for second in the league with 41 receptions, has thus already earned an extra $70,000 this year. (Also, since Edelman did not catch 30 passes in 2012, all of these incentives are considered "not likely to be earned," which means that they will count against the Patriots' salary cap as he earns them.) Those 41 catches are already a career best, exceeding his rookie season, when he caught 37 balls. He has also set a career best for yardage; his 411 receiving yards easily eclipses the 359 yards he had as a rookie.
Most importantly, as a result of the Patriots' well-described turnover at the wide receiver position, he has also beaten his snap count for 2012, according to FootballOutsiders.com:
|2012||295 (24%)||74 (15%)|
|2013 (to date)||375 (84%)||43 (24%)|
The biggest knock on Edelman, of course, has been his durability: he missed 16 games in his first four seasons.
It's likely that Edelman's reception rate (averaging nearly seven a game) will drop as Brady gains more trust in rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, and if/when other options—including running back Shane Vereen, wide receiver Danny Amendola, and tight end Rob Gronkowski—return. But even if he only averages half his current rate over the remaining 10 games, he'll still reach that 70-catch plateau.
If Julian Edelman stays healthy, should the Patriots re-sign him?
And if he stays healthy for all 16 games—especially if he continues to play the majority of snaps in each game—that will raise the money he gets in his next contract, too.