Three-time Super Bowl champion WR Julian Edelman released by Patriots

Julian Edelman’s storied career in New England is over, and an exit from football altogether might not be too far away.

The Patriots have terminated Edelman’s contract, according to the official transaction wire, with an official listing of a failed physical.

Edelman’s contract termination comes after a lengthy effort to improve the status of his injured knee, which NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported had long odds but was the goal. His exit from New England leaves Edelman with a decision to make on his future, and one can’t help but think a failed physical and departure from the only team he’s known at 34 years old (with his 35th birthday arriving next month) might lead to retirement.

Edelman has yet to make such a decision, of course, but if 2020 was his last hurrah, he leaves after compiling an incredibly impressive career at a position he hadn’t played until he reached the NFL yet proved invaluable in the clutch. Once a star dual-threat quarterback at Kent State, Edelman converted to receiver, arriving in New England via a seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft. The diminutive Edelman became a favorite target of Tom Brady, catching 37 passes for 359 yards and a touchdown in his first season before blossoming into the ideal slot receiver in New England’s offense in 2013. In that season, Edelman posted his first 1,000-yard campaign, catching 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.

Three seasons later, Edelman made the greatest highlight grab of his career, snagging a deflected pass from the centimeters of space above the turf at Houston’s NRG Stadium to help the Patriots remain alive in a furious comeback attempt that ultimately lifted them to an overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Edelman also earned MVP honors in Super Bowl LIII after catching 12 passes for 141 yards vs. the Rams.

In between, Edelman grew into Brady’s trusty target underneath, catching 599 passes for 6,507 yards and 36 touchdowns from 2009-2019 while helping the organization capture three Super Bowl titles. With his pals Brady and Rob Gronkowski gone for Tampa, the 34-year-old appeared in just six games in 2020, catching 21 passes for 315 yards in a New England offense that struggled mightily without proper pass-catching talent for new arrival Cam Newton.

Edelman succeeded as the latest of a handful of mid-major products who found their niche in the NFL and ran with it to stardom. A fan favorite in New England, his contributions won’t be forgotten any time soon — and he’ll undoubtedly be missed.

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