It appears as though Julian Edelman isn't completely ruling out a return to the NFL.
The longtime New England Patriots wideout, who retired ahead of the 2021 campaign, told Chris Long that he was essentially weighing up whether his body could endure the grind of an NFL season when he was asked if he might attempt a comeback:
Zack Cox @ZackCoxNESN
Interesting response from Julian Edelman when <a href="https://twitter.com/JOEL9ONE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JOEL9ONE</a> asked him about a potential comeback. <br><br>Said he's been working out and his body feels "extremely better" than it did at the tail end of his career. <br><br>Basically, he's not ruling it out. <a href="https://t.co/m6Ek9AEjaA">pic.twitter.com/m6Ek9AEjaA</a>
That mirrored comments Edelman made on the Rich Eisen Show two weeks ago, when he said he missed playing more this year than he did last year during his first year of retirement:
Rich Eisen Show @RichEisenShow
Now entering Retirement Year 2, we had to ask <a href="https://twitter.com/Edelman11?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Edelman11</a> how much he's missing football these days and if he gets a phone call from the 813 this fall, how much he'd entertain coming back:<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFL</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFLPreseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFLPreseason</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBucs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBucs</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Patriots?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Patriots</a> <a href="https://t.co/n9OBktszll">pic.twitter.com/n9OBktszll</a>
Even in June, Edelman appeared to be leaving the door open for a potential return:
Dov Kleiman @NFL_DovKleiman
When asked about coming back to the NFL, Julian <a href="https://twitter.com/Edelman11?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Edelman11</a> admits during the <a href="https://twitter.com/IAMATHLETEpod?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IAMATHLETEpod</a> that after taking a year off football his knee feels better than when he retired.<br><br>"Now that I've taken a year off, my body feels pretty straight." <a href="https://t.co/Or3bFt1hEM">pic.twitter.com/Or3bFt1hEM</a>
The 36-year-old played 11 seasons in the NFL, all with the Patriots, accumulating 620 receptions for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion and the Super Bowl LIII MVP, regularly operating out of the slot as one of Tom Brady's most trusted options in the passing game.
Edelman called it quits after the 2020 season, citing the knee injury he suffered in 2020 as the final straw for his career:
"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career—wins, championships, production—Julian has it all," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement at the time. "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."
Were Edelman to make a return to football, the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be the front-runners. A Patriots return would be an obvious enough reunion, but linking back up with Brady in Tampa would be a logical move as well, though the Bucs do have a solid trio at the position in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones.
For the moment, it's merely a hypothetical, as Edelman remains retired. But it's pretty obvious the itch to play has returned. Whether Edelman's body would hold up its end of the bargain is the bigger question at this point.