Julian Edelman retires from NFL after New England Patriots end his contract

Julian Edelman announced on Monday that he is retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons, citing a knee injury that cut his 2020 season short after just six games. He says he will leave the league after giving everything he had to the sport.

For more than a decade Edelman lived the ultimate NFL underdog story with the New England Patriots, going from an undersized college quarterback to a favorite option of Tom Brady on three Super Bowl-winning teams.

“Nothing in my career has ever come easy. And no surprise, this isn’t going to come easy either,” Edelman said fighting back tears in a video posted to Twitter. “I’ve always said I’m going to go until the wheels come off. And they finally have fallen off.”

Earlier in the day, the Patriots terminated the 34-year-old’s contract after he failed a physical. It brought an abrupt end to Edelman’s 11-year New England tenure, where he won three titles and was named Super Bowl 53 MVP in 2019, having missed the entire 2017 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

“By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all,” the Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a 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.”

The Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, called Edelman “one of the great success stories in our franchise’s history”. The wide receiver appeared in just six games in his final season before going on injured reserve following surgery on his knee.

Edelman was entering the final season of a two-year, $15.5m contract and was facing an uphill climb to make the roster in 2021. This offseason the Patriots have already added the receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor in free agency.

A seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Kent State, Edelman retires ranked second in team history with 620 receptions, fourth in receiving yards (6,822) and ninth with 36 receiving touchdowns. He also had 58 rushing attempts for 413 yards, the most by a Patriots wide receiver. His 9,869 all-purpose yards are fourth in team history.

Edelman will be most remembered, though, for what he did during the postseason, amassing 118 catches for 1,422 yards and seven touchdowns. He scored the decisive touchdown against the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, and produced a fingertip catch to complete the historic comeback win against the Falcons two years later.

The receiver reached his pinnacle in Super Bowl 53 when he hauled in 10 receptions for 141 yards, lifting the Patriots to a 13-3 victory against the Los Angeles Rams and being named the game’s MVP.

“Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out,” Belichick said. “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.”

Written by