How Julian Edelman's Retirement Impacts Patriots' Depth Chart

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIApril 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

Longtime New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman announced his retirement on Monday after 11 years with the franchise. 

Julian Edelman @Edelman11

Foxboro Forever https://t.co/x3SDDPJoTX

The 34-year-old, who was drafted by the Patriots out of Kent State in the seventh round in 2009, ends his career with 6,822 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns. 

Here's a look at the Patriots offense following the news: 

QB: Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Jacob Dolegala

RB: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Jakob Johnson, Brandon Bolden, J.J. Taylor

WR 1: Kendrick Bourne, N'Keal Harry, Matthew Slater, Isaiah Zuber

WR 2: Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, Quincy Adeboyejo

WR 3: Gunner Olszewski, Kristian Wilkerson

TE: Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Dalton Keene, Devin Asiasi, Matt LaCosse, Rashod Berry

LT: Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste

LG: Michael Onwenu, Justin Herron, Najee Toran

C: David Andrews, Ted Karras, Dustin Woodard

RG: Shaquille Mason

RT: Trent Brown, Korey Cunningham  

Edelman's announcement came after NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said the Patriots terminated his contract because of a failed physical, though ESPN's Mike Reiss said Edelman "has been mulling retirement." 

A quarterback in college, Edelman transformed into a three-time Super Bowl champion with New England, making significant contributions on special teams and at wide receiver. His 620 receptions rank second in franchise history, and his receiving yards and touchdowns rank fourth and ninth, respectively. 

He led the Patriots at wide receiver for every season dating back to 2013, with the exception of the 2017 campaign, which he missed because of injury. 

Now that Edelman has called it quits—stepping away following a season marred by injuries that limited him to six games—the other wide receivers in New England will be forced into an increased role.

With Edelman in a reduced role in 2020, Meyers and Byrd held down the New England receiving corps. Meyers posted 729 yards but failed to find the end zone, while Byrd posted 604 yards and one score. Harry managed less yardage, with just 309, but he scored twice.

Byrd is a free agent, though both Meyers and Harry will be back. 

The Patriots made some significant offseason additions at the position, so filling the void shouldn't be too hard. Nelson Agholor, who is entering his seventh season in the league, and Kendrick Bourne, who was strong in four years in San Francisco, made their way to New England. 

Agholor had a career-best season with the Raiders last year, posting 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Bourne also reached his peak in yardage, posting 667 yards, while adding two touchdowns.

Those players, combined with some boosts at the tight end position by way of Smith and Henry, should keep the Patriots offense competitive even without Edelman.