Julian Edelman Announces Retirement After 12-Year Career with Patriots

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2021

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman warms up before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Julian Edelman's NFL career is over.

On Monday, the New England Patriots wide receiver announced his retirement "due to an injury last year":

Julian Edelman @Edelman11

Foxboro Forever https://t.co/x3SDDPJoTX

The announcement comes after NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots ended Edelman's contract because of a failed physical. ESPN's Mike Reiss added the wide receiver "has been mulling retirement and this could just be a precursor to that announcement."

ESPN's Adam Schefter noted Edelman could collect $2 million because of the failed physical designation:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

By having his contract terminated for a failed physical today, former Patriots' WR Julian Edelman now becomes eligible for injury protection benefit, per the CBA, available to all players in this situation. Edelman can collect up to $2 million through this benefit.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Edelman upon the retirement announcement (h/t ProFootballTalk's Myles Simmons):

"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career—wins, championships, production—Julian has it all. 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."

Edelman goes out as a Patriots legend.

New England selected him out of Kent State with a seventh-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft, and the college quarterback exceeded all expectations at his new position. While it took him some time to find his footing with a combined 714 receiving yards in his first four seasons, Edelman was a key special teams contributor.

He returned a punt for a touchdown in each of his second, third and fourth seasons before breaking through as a pass-catcher in his fifth.

Edelman finished the 2013 season with 105 catches for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns in the first of three campaigns he would post more than 1,000 receiving yards.

He is also a three-time Super Bowl champion and second on the Patriots' all-time list with 620 catches, fourth with 6,822 receiving yards and ninth with 36 touchdown catches.

While Tom Brady and Bill Belichick receive plenty of deserved praise for their respective roles in helping New England become a modern-day dynasty, Edelman was a key part of the run as well. He won the Super Bowl LIII MVP after catching 10 passes for 141 yards in the Patriots' 13-3 win over the L.A. Rams.

Unfortunately for the 34-year-old, the 2020 campaign did not go as hoped.

The Patriots missed the playoffs entirely while Brady won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Edelman finished with 21 catches for 315 yards and zero touchdowns in just six games played while he dealt with injuries.

Still, New England fans will undoubtedly remember him for his key contributions in his prime as a three-time champion.