Julian Edelman on Tom Brady: 'I Love Him to Death, but the Train Keeps Moving'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, celebrates his touchdown pass to Julian Edelman, right, in the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman left emotion at the door when it comes to former teammate Tom Brady

Edelman spoke about Brady's departure and decision to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, per the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels:

"Obviously, it was a little different scenario. You've got to move on and you understand this is a business and wish him well. That's when you instantly start to think about what you can do to prepare yourself to go out and contribute and help the team for the upcoming year. Obviously, yeah, we played a lot of ball together. I love him to death, but the train keeps moving."

The Patriots selected Edelman out of Kent State in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, but he didn't become a regular contributor to the passing game until 2013. Once Edelman's offensive role grew, he almost immediately emerged as one of Brady's preferred targets.

Between 2013 and 2019, Edelman was first among Patriots players in targets (793) and receptions (530), according to Pro Football Reference.

Now, either Jarrett Stidham or Cam Newton will be throwing Edelman passes in 2020.

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Newton is clearly the more intriguing of the two since he's a former MVP and three-time Pro Bowler. His mobility could bring a different dimension to New England's offense as well.

"When you first meet him, just his stature. He's large—put together well," Edelman said of the former Carolina Panthers star, per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "He has a great energy about himself. I was really impressed with his work ethic and mindset."

As much as Edelman might remain friendly with Brady, he's apparently seeing the upcoming season as a sort of challenge with the legendary quarterback no longer in town, per NFL Network's Michael Giardi:

A small part of Edelman's on-field legacy could be on the line even though he's already a three-time Super Bowl champion who has regularly delivered in the postseason.

ESPN's Bill Barnwell evaluated the Hall of Fame candidacies for a number of active players and called Edelman a bit of a long shot, writing that his "case rests entirely on playoff and Super Bowl production."

Were the 34-year-old to have a monster season or two without Brady, he might tip the scales in his favor when the time comes to examine his Hall of Fame resume.