We are just two weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft. While all of the hype and buzz each year surrounds the highly-touted prospects in the class, the final day of the draft and the free-agent signings that follow ultimately account for the vast majority of NFL rosters. While the likelihood of a Day 3 draftee going on to become a household name is admittedly slim, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. Just ask any fan of the New England Patriots. Or better yet, ask former seventh-round pick, Julian Edelman, himself.
Julian Edelman Retires After 11 Seasons with Patriots
Just like Tom Brady, the quarterback who threw to him for 10 of his 11 NFL seasons, Julian Edelman was a Day 3 draft selection. Taken at No. 229 overall by New England in the 2009 NFL Draft. Fast forward 11 years and he is hanging up his spikes as one of the most beloved receivers in Patriots’ history.
Edelman surfaced on the NFL news radar Monday afternoon when it was reported that the Patriots were cutting him. Shortly after, the wideout posted an awesome video on Twitter announcing his retirement.
After spending the entirety of his 11-year career as a Patriot, Edelman indeed lived up to the “Foxboro Forever” motto. Brady may have been a late-round draft pick who also far exceeded expectations, but even he couldn’t play his entire career with one team. In the modern sports era where players seem to change teams faster than they do underwear, it’s pretty cool to see Edelman end his NFL career with the same franchise that gave him a chance.
Julian Edelman Career Review
For a player who was deemed to be too small and not quick enough coming out of college at Kent State, Edelman sure proved the naysayers wrong. He appeared in 11 games right away in his 2009 rookie season, starting seven of them. In fact, his 359 receiving yards as a rookie would be more than he achieved in each of the next three seasons. A broken arm cut his rookie season short, but it should’ve been clear from the start that the Patriots had found something special in their seventh-round pick. Oh, and by the way, he was a quarterback by trade all the way through college!
Edelman was a difference-make for New England right down to the end of his playing career. His 1,117 receiving yards at age 33 in 2019 was the highest total of his entire career. A knee injury sustained early on in the 2020 season ultimately proved to be his demise. Not only did it end his season early, but it also was the final blow that led him to call it a career. That said, it wasn’t a career short on accomplishments. The following sections break down more career stats and highlights.
Julian Edelman Career Stats
Note: Not counting the postseason
- Games Played: 137 (85 career starts)
- Receptions: 620
- Receiving Yards: 6822
- Receiving Touchdowns: 36
- Catch Rate: 65.9%
- Rushing Attempts: 58
- Rushing Yards: 413
- Total Yards from Scrimmage: 7235
Julian Edelman Career Accomplishments
- Three-time Super Bowl champion
- Super Bowl LIII MVP (10 catches for 141 yards)
- Four Super Bowl appearances (19 total playoff games played)
- Second all-time in NFL postseason receiving yards (1,442)
- Second all-time in NFL postseason receptions (188)
- Three 1,000-yard receiving seasons (2013, ‘16, ‘19)
- Two career touchdown passes (yup, he even showed off those QB skills on occasion!)
Why Julian Edelman Should be a Hall of Famer
With career numbers and accomplishments like the ones above, Julian Edelman will go down in NFL history as one of the best seventh-round draft picks to ever play the game. His smarts and intangibles complemented his physical attributes beautifully. Even into his 30’s, Edelman was able to find soft spots in the myriad of coverage looks opposing defenses threw at him. He was a headache for many coordinators over the course of 11 years. Furthermore, Edelman always seemed to take his play up a notch in the postseason.
In my mind, there really shouldn’t be much debate as to whether Edelman is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His postseason stats are off the charts. There are very few players who can say they won a Super Bowl MVP award, let alone that they are a three-time Super Bowl champion. And none of his numbers even quantify just how important he was to the sustained success of Tom Brady and the Patriots offense as a whole. Edelman never appeared in the Pro Bowl, but it’s the freaking Pro Bowl for crying out loud. Heck, with the Patriots being in Super Bowl contention seemingly every season, he wouldn’t have even been able to participate anyways.
Edelman Will First Appear on HoF Ballot in 2026
There’s a reason why rival fans of the Patriots always had a strong disdain for Edelman during his career. He was a threat on each and every play, a true difference-maker and star. His playing career might have lived up to “Foxboro Forever”, but make no mistake about it: Edelman’s accomplishments on the gridiron are worthy of a place in Canton too.
Edelman will first be eligible for Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2026. Wide receiver has proven to be the hardest position when it comes to earning a plaque, but he is more than deserving of such an honor one day.