Julian Edelman has announced that he is retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons. The wide receiver, who played his entire career with the New England Patriots, was cut by the franchise last week after he failed a medical.
Remarkably, 2009 seventh-round pick Edelman transformed from converted college quarterback to one of the NFL’s greatest possession receivers over his 11-year career, winning three Super Bowls along the way.
During his time with the Patriots, Edelman amassed 620 receptions for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also contributed 2,612 total return yards and four more touchdowns on returns. Although he was never voted to the Pro Bowl for his performances during the regular season, Edelman is the subject of Hall of Fame debate due to his consistent impact in the offseason.
The 34-year-old ranks second all-time in the NFL in postseason receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,442).
“Nothing in my career has ever come easy and no surprise, this isn’t going to be easy either,” Edelman said on a video posted to social media. “I’ve always said, ‘I’ll go until the wheels come off.’ And they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I’ll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football.”
“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said, visibly upset as he delivered his message. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. … It’s been the best 12 years of my life.”
Edelman, affectionately known as ‘the squirrel’ by fans and teammates, was named MVP of Super Bowl LIII, in which he made 10 receptions for 141 yards as the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams in a low-scoring game.
Despite this, Edelman will perhaps be most remembered by Patriots fans and the rest of the league for a spectacular diving catch as the Patriots came back from 28-3 down to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, a play regarded as one of the best of all time in one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
He also made the decisive touchdown reception against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, a game the Patriots won by a score of 28-24.
“Julian Edelman is one of the great success stories in our franchise’s history. There aren’t many players who earn an NFL roster spot at a position they have never played before,” Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement.
“Julian not only did that as a seventh-round draft selection, but he is retiring with the second-most career receptions in franchise history and as a three-time Super Bowl Champion, including his last as Super Bowl MVP. No one was more committed to his craft and honing his skills than Jules. His explosiveness off the line, quickness in his cuts and elusiveness after the catch made him one of the hardest players to defend throughout his career.”
Edelman finishes his career in second place on the all-time Patriots chart for receptions with 620, behind only Wes Welker, who had 52 more. The former seventh-round pick is fourth on the team’s career receiving yards list with his figure of 6,822, behind Stanley Morgan (10,352), Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Welker (7,459).
“By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all,” Patriots head coach and GM Bill Belichick said in a team statement.
“Few players can match Julian’s achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out. Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances.
“For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player. He could, and did, do everything – catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle – all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance. Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him.”
Because he had his contract terminated by the New England Patriots for failing his physical, Edelman has become eligible for the injury protection benefit. The 34-year-old can collect up to $2 million through this benefit, per the CBA. Edelman missed the entire 2017 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
“On the biggest stage and in the biggest moments, you always came through,” Tom Brady tweeted. “You never lost that chip on your shoulder and you never let anyone define you as a person or player. I’m proud of you Jules. Love you.”