The Patriots sent shockwaves throughout the NFL on Monday — tremors, at least — with the announcement that they would cut veteran receiver Julian Edelman.
Multiple reports suggest that New England cut Edelman, 34, because he failed his physical; he would have played his 12th season in the league in 2021 after missing the final 10 games of the 2020 season while recovering from knee surgery.
That said, New England’s decision to cut Edelman was more than just a simple failed physical. Either way, Monday’s decision could put the cap on an 11-year career that saw Edelman catch 620 passes for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns and win three Super Bowls.
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Here’s everything you need to know about the decision, and Edelman’s future in the NFL.
Why did the Patriots cut Julian Edelman?
The initial reason for Edelman’s tenure ending in New England was a failed physical. That makes sense on the surface, considering that the 34-year-old receiver played in the fewest games in a given season since he entered the NFL in 2009. Considering how busy New England coach/GM Bill Belichick was in free agency, it also stands to reason that Edelman would have seen fewer targets in 2021 after the Patriots added receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
However, that was only part of the Patriots’ decision. Per Mike Weiss of ESPN, the decision could simply be a formality and precursor to Edelman retiring from football.
While Julian Edelman showed up on today’s transaction wire as having his contract terminated by the Patriots, Edelman has been mulling retirement and this could just be a precursor to that announcement.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) April 12, 2021
Edelman later confirmed rumors in a pre-recorded video that he was, indeed, retiring.
As for why the Patriots cut him instead of letting him simply retire: Adam Schefter reports that, by being cut, Edelman became eligible for injury protection benefit, meaning he could collect up to $2 million per the CBA.
By having his contract terminated for a failed physical today, former Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman now becomes eligible for injury protection benefit, per the CBA, available to all players in this situation. Edelman can collect up to $2 million through this benefit.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 12, 2021
Why is Edelman retiring from the NFL?
In the video, Edelman credited an undisclosed knee injury from the 2020 season as the reason for his retirement. He underwent surgery on Oct. 29 and did not return for the remainder of New England’s 7-9 season.
“Nothing in my career has ever come easy. And, no surprise, this isn’t going to be easy, either,” Edelman said in his announcement. “I always said, ‘I’m gonna 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 retirement from football. 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.
That last line also puts an end to any rumors that Edelman will attempt a comeback somewhere else in the NFL — notably, in Tampa Bay with former teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.