The New England Patriots are heading into an offseason filled with questions. One of them surrounds the team’s core of veteran players such as Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman. While it remains to be seen whether or not Hightower and Slater decide to continue their careers, we already know that McCourty will not retire and be back for the 2021 season.
The same also seems to be the case with Edelman.
The 34-year-old appeared on the latest episode of the Pardon My Take podcast, and was introduced as follows:
PMT: Can we get you to reconsider your retirement from football?
Edelman: You guys are nuts. What are you talking about?
PMT: We don’t want you to retire! We don’t want you to retire!
Edelman: What are you talking about?
PMT: You’re not retiring, correct?
Edelman: We’re being a dad right now, and we’re sitting back, and we’re training, getting our body ready for the next year. It’s a time to get away from football right now. This long crazy year.
The playful exchanged was built behind the backdrop of long-time Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers announcing his retirement earlier this week after 17 seasons in the NFL. Edelman was also asked about Rivers and whether or not he too will step away this offseason.
“He had a great career. He had an unbelievable career,” Edelman said. “But, I don’t know, we’re not there yet. Right now, it’s a time, like I said, it’s going to be… This whole year was so jacked up. It was so long, I just need to decompress for a little bit. I’m out in L.A. right now, taking my kid to school, and picking her up, doing the kind of things you don’t get to do during the season, and I’m enjoying that right now.
“Don’t necessarily know what you guys are talking about.”
Edelman is entering the offseason coming off a challenging 2021 campaign.
Long-time quarterback Tom Brady left the Patriots in free agency, the Coronavirus pandemic impacted the entire year — Edelman himself spent some time on the Reserve/Covid-19 list — and the wideout himself struggled to have his usual impact due to a nagging knee injury. He played a comparatively limited role over the first half of the season before undergoing surgery on his knee in late October.
Even though he did return to the practice field in December, Edelman never actually was activated to the 53-man roster. The MVP of Super Bowl 53 therefore ended his season on the sidelines and with just six in-game appearances as well as 21 catches for 315 yards.
Edelman acknowledged that the 2020 season was a rough one for him, but that he is “getting there” in terms of his recovery process.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “It was a rough year when it came to just my physicality and how I felt. It’s tough, but this is the time where you sit, and you self-reflect, and you self-evaluate, and you self-scout yourself through all last year. You’re really go in and try to develop a formula, and try to develop a game plan for how you’re going to attack the offseason. That’s the process I’m in right now.”
The 12-year veteran is one of the most accomplished wide receivers in the league, and as such the leader of New England’s wide receiver room. However, his recent injury history in combination with his age and contractual status — Edelman has a salary cap hit of $6.1 million in the last year of his contract — cast some doubt over his return for the 2021 season.
While it remains to be seen how the economics work out, and whether or not he really will be back in a Patriots uniform next season, we do know one thing: Edelman is not stepping away from football just yet.