New England Patriots fans lost six-time (now seven) Super Bowl champion and quarterback Tom Brady in the 2020 offseason, and it could be that another fan favorite will depart this offseason as receiver Julian Edelman, a three-time Super Bowl champion and MVP of SB LII, could be released by the team due to chronic knee issues that cut his '20 campaign short. The Pats have an Over/Under win total of 9 for 2021, and Edelman's status wouldn't affect that.
Edelman, who will be 35 next month, won't be a Pro Football Hall of Famer but should go into the Patriots Hall of Fame with those three rings, that Super Bowl MVP Award and ranking fourth in franchise history with 6,822 receiving yards, second with 620 receptions and ninth with 36 TD catches. Edelman seemed to make every clutch catch.
Last year, the former Kent State quarterback was limited to six games and did very little, catching 21 passes for 315 yards and no TDs – although the entire New England passing game was atrocious (perhaps Bill Belichick would be interested in Teddy Bridgewater?). Edelman didn't play after October due to knee surgery. He also spent 11 days on the COVID list.
The Boston Herald is reporting that it's "doubtful" Edelman will be able to play all 16 games in 2021 if he's even on the roster, which is seriously in question considering he has a $2.8 million base salary and $6.1 million cap hit, and the Patriots are pretty full at receiver with new additions Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne as well as N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. The Pats also added two pass-catching tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry.
With big money going to Smith and Henry, expect New England to play a ton of two-tight end sets, which would leave regular time for only two receivers instead of the usual three. The Pats also are likely to take a receiver at some point in the 2021 draft. Releasing Edelman would save the team $3.5 million against the cap – it seems unlikely any team would trade for him. There's loyalty and there's common sense.
Brady surely would pitch the Bucs to sign Edelman if he was cut free, and Brady gets what he wants, although Tampa Bay is pretty stacked at receiver as it is and would have no room if Antonio Brown is re-signed. The record for Super Bowl rings won by a receiver is four by a handful of players. Edelman most likely isn't getting No. 4 in New England in 2021 as the Pats are +3000 to win Super Bowl 56 at William Hill Sportsbook.
Here's what former NFL front office executive Mike Tannenbaum said recently on ESPN's Get Up: "Tom Brady. Julian Edelman. When we connect the dots, it makes a lot of sense. Antonio Brown wasn't re-signed, Edelman is now expendable, it's another ex-Patriot going to Tampa Bay with Tom Brady. It makes a lot of sense to me when you connect the dots."
The Bucs do visit the Patriots in the 2021 regular season, with a date TBA. It almost surely will be a prime-time game, and Edelman with Tampa Bay would only add more intrigue.
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