Free agent wide receiver Julian Edelman will have several options on the open market this offseason, but none is as appealing on and off the field as re-signing with the New England Patriots.
Before free agency officially began, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported New England offered Edelman a three-year deal and was very interested in keeping him on the team:
I don't think there's ever any question about Julian's skills or his toughness or his competitiveness. Yeah, you're right. This is the year he's been able to stay on the field, and certainly his production has paralleled his time on the field. He's done a good job with his opportunities. He always practices hard, plays hard, prepares well. He's always a tough guy you can count on from that standpoint and this year he's been healthy.
Fellow NFL Network insider Albert Breer predicted this was a situation that would drag on past the beginning of the signing period:
As Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported, the team and player were not able to come to an agreement and Edelman is now expected to take his time making a decision:
While the Patriots are a dream location for any wide receiver, the intrigue of signing a bigger contract will be a factor Edelman must deal with accordingly. Per Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, Edelman has the Ravens on his mind:
The lure of big money will always be enticing, but there is no team in the NFL that offers Edelman the right mixture of financial compensation and on-field satisfaction.
The veteran wide receiver must re-sign with New England.
As the featured wide receiver in the offensive game plan, Edelman managed to play in all 16 games and managed to rack up an incredible 105 receptions. That was 26 more receptions than he amassed during his entire career leading up to last season (69 receptions over four seasons).
Add in Edelman’s 151 total targets and the team’s willingness to let him return punts and there are few franchises in the NFL that can provide him with a role that important. If this is only about money, he will sign with the highest bidder, but staying with the Patriots could benefit him fiscally in the future as well.
Edelman racked up 1,056 yards, six touchdowns and 54 first-down receptions in the 2013-14 season, all of which were career highs. If he decided to stay in New England and prove he could put up those numbers consistently, the receiver could sign a monster free-agent deal after two or three seasons with the Patriots.
With New England contending for a Super Bowl perennially, there is no better option for Edelman than re-signing with the Patriots.
*All stats via NFL.com.