Julian Edelman Retires

Hell of a career. But not a Hall of Famer.

Jim Rome
April 13, 2021 - 10:10 am
Julian Edelman

USA Today


The word first came in the form of an NFL transaction that announced that the Patriots had terminated Julian Edelman’s contract. And for a moment, there was confusion. The hell is that?!?? Were the Pats giving up on him? Was he forcing his way out of New England to hop the train down to Tampa?

And then the official announcement came from Edelman himself on social media – he is retiring. As he said, in part, in a video: "It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. ... It's been the best 12 years of my life."

And it makes sense. He’s turning 35 in a month and was only able to play six games last year due to a knee injury. And it’s not just the knee injury, it’s all the other injuries that have mounted up over the years. Because this is a dude who played through a ton of injuries and a ton of pain. 

It sucks that he’s retiring due to injuries, but the fact that he’s retiring, assuming it sticks, does mean that he won’t be joining Brady and Gronk in Tampa. As if the hood would ever let that happen. One thing for Brady to go to Tampa, but then Gronk, and then Edelman? That would be too much.

Besides, -on-brand for Brady as that would be, which means, tedious and tired as hell.  , Edelman has always been a Belichick guy. And it’s been a hell of a ride.

If you go back to his autobiography, written with Tom Curran, this was the phone call from Belichick to Edelman on Draft Day: “Hey, this is Coach Belichick. We are going to draft you. We really don’t know what you are going to play, but we know you can play football. Nancy Meier [the Patriots’ director of scouting administration] will call you tonight to get you situated. Have a good one.”

And that about sums it up. They didn’t know where the Kent State quarterback could play, but they knew he could play football. And he played it. And played his ass off. 

Three Super Bowl rings. A Super Bowl MVP. Second-most postseason receptions in NFL history. When the chips were down, the stakes were highest and the spotlight was the brightest, he was at his best. Like in the Super Bowl against the Rams. 

Like that reception against the Falcons in the 28-3 comeback.

Those are some great moments from a damn good career. Period. Damn good career.   But let’s be clear about something: he is not a Hall of Famer. 

Again, tremendous career. A guy who came into the league as quarterback taken in the 7thround isn’t supposed to make it one year, let alone 12. You don’t take a quarterback from Kent State and expect him to be a Super Bowl MVP wide receiver. That just doesn’t happen. At all. Ever.

And the fact that it is, is a testament to Edelman. And it’s something that Patriots fans will always have. And no one can ever rip that from him or them. But let’s stop with this hall of fame nonsense. 

Edelman’s not a Hall of Famer. And honestly, if you look at the numbers, it’s not even close. He was a killer in the postseason, but his regular season numbers just don’t stack up.  At all. 

He’s second all-time in receptions. Not in the league, on his own team. Wes Welker has more receptions than Edelman. 

He’s fourth in all-time receiving yards…for a Patriot. Stanley Morgan has nearly 3500 more receiving yards than he does.

And I want to be clear before I keep going on, I have a ton of respect for his career. And for his grind. And his work ethic. Because he wasn’t really supposed to have a job in the NFL. And then, once he did, every single year, there are dozens of guys coming into the league looking to take his job, and nobody could.

It can be a damn good career but still not be Canton-worthy. Because he’s not. It’s’ not the hall of the very good.  It’s for the best of the best, and by metric that matters, he’s not that. He’s just not. The bar for getting in there is so much higher than just having a really good career. 

And just because someone doesn’t get a bust doesn’t mean they are a bust. 

But let’s be real about Edelman. He’s really, really, really good. He delivered so much more than anyone could ever expect for a seventh-round pick from the MAC, but just stop with this hall of fame nonsense. Yes, he has three rings: yes, he has great postseason numbers: and no, no one can ever take them from him. But those numbers alone won’t get you a mustard blazer. The guy is a patriot great: but not an all-time great. Just look at his numbers. For example, he’s 75thin all-time receptions. 75th. 

And 56th in receiving yards. I’m sorry, did I say 56th? I meant 156th. He’s behind Nate Washington, Ahmad Rashad, and Jeremy Maclin in receiving yards. He’s only slightly ahead of Deion Branch. He’s not even in the top 250 in receiving touchdowns. Guys like Miles Austin and Jeremy Shockey have more receiving touchdowns than he does. 

There are running backs with more receiving yards than Edelman. Marshall Faulk has more receptions, more receiving yards, and the same number of receiving touchdowns. And he didn’t even play receiver.

Speaking of receivers, he never went to a Pro Bowl. As a receiver or a return man. And I know how good he was as a returner. He was dangerous. 

The guy who is in 56th place on the all-time receiving yards list has nearly 50% more yards than Edelman. Torry Holt has nearly double the receiving yards and he’s not in the Hall. Reggie Wayne isn’t either. Hines Ward’s numbers blow Edelman’s out of the water and he wasn’t even a finalist this year. 

Oh, and there’s the PED suspension. That kind of gets glossed over, but it did happen.  

And none of this is to dump on Edelman, again, he had a great career: and I couldn’t’ respect his grit, drive, work ethic, and heart any more than I do. But he’s not a hall of famer. He’s had an amazing football life: it’s just going to end with him getting a yellow jacket and a bust in canton. There are guy’s way more deserving who aren’t in and may never get in. And there’s no shame in Edelman not getting in, because this guy got literally everything he possibly could out of what he had; and how many people can say that?  But that in and of itself isn’t getting you a bust.