Julian Edelman‘s life story plays out kind of like a Hollywood movie. A college quarterback at Kent State University, Edelman was not invited to the 2009 NFL Draft Combine. After the New England Patriots drafted him in the seventh round, he played wide receiver/punt returner.
Fast-forward five years, Edelman was the leading receiver for the Patriots as they beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Five more years later, he is now one of the most prolific players in the back-end of the Patriots dynasty.
The story and resume of Edelman would put most players directly into the Hall of Fame. With four Super Bowl appearances, three Super Bowl wins, and a Super Bowl MVP, he has been a constant force in the postseason. He’s second all-time in playoff receptions and yardage with 115 catches on 1,412 yards. He only trails the greatest receiver ever Jerry Rice.
Furthermore, Edelman’s 141-yard performance in Super Bowl LIII was the latest of a long list of clutch performances in key moments by him.
Minitron had two first-down receptions on third-and-10 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Two years ago, he had a circus catch against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. He always seems to make the biggest play of the game on the biggest stage.
The Patriots have always had the scrappy slot-receiver that balls out in the playoffs. First, there was Wes Welker, then Danny Amendola, and now Edelman. Edelman’s been the most productive and effective out of the three, especially in the postseason. In the last three Super Bowls he’s played in, he’s led all wide receivers in receiving yards.
Yet, despite Edelman’s obvious postseason heroics, many people don’t consider him as a Hall of Fame-type player. His lack of regular season production is the reason for him to not get into Canton.
Edelman has only had two 1,000-yard seasons and 30 touchdowns in nine seasons. Furthermore, he’s never played a full 16-game season. This is mainly due to an ACL injury that caused him to miss all of 2017. In addition, a four-game PED suspension to begin the 2018 season caused him to miss more time.
The underwhelming numbers that Edelman has accrued over his career gives way to rejecting him as a Hall of Famer. He has had the luxury of catching balls from Tom Brady and getting coached by Bill Belichick. Yet, the quarterback and player he is with shouldn’t water down his case.
While many people will simply put Edelman’s success solely in the hands of Brady and Belichick, they should respect his consistent production in crucial moments. His performances during the 2016, 2017 and 2019 Super Bowl runs helped propel the Patriots offense. His absence from the 2018 team definitely hurt the Patriots chances of winning four-straight Super Bowls. Edelman’s perfect record in the big game, coupled with his offensive importance in punt-returning and receiving, should give him Hall of Fame consideration.
To say that Edelman hasn’t been as good as other Patriots wide receivers is true, but is also misleading. While there is no denying that Welker has had a better statistical career, he came up just short when the Patriots needed him most. Although Welker led the league in receptions in 2007, 2009 and 2011, he was unable to win any of his three Super Bowl appearance. At times, he was simply subpar and had some notorious dropped passes during his time with New England.
In my opinion, both Welker and Edelman should be in the Hall of Fame. Although Welker failed to win a Super Bowl and Edelman has yet to produce a great regular season, their impact on the everlasting Patriots dynasty is evident. Brady thrives when he can quickly get the ball out his hands. Having quick-footed slot receivers like Wes and Julian is essential for the Patriots offense.
In addition, Edelman is one of the best route-runners in the NFL. His ability to create space off the line of scrimmage is amongst the best. That is why he is wide open nearly every time. He has incredible footwork that allows him to wriggle his way away from defending cornerbacks. This is why he has been so important for Brady and the Patriots offense.
All in all, Edelman has compiled a career quite like no one else. After starting his NFL career as a backup to Welker, he has blossomed into one of the most clutch players in postseason history. He has been the most valuable and reliable target for Brady over the past five years.
Edelman’s dominant presence in the playoffs and his multitude of clutch performances has put him in the record books forever. It should also put him into Canton for his invaluable contributions to the Patriots.
While he is definitely no Jerry Rice and may never be a leading receiver in the regular season, Edelman’s gallant gameplay in the playoffs has already cemented his legacy and will eventually put him into the Hall of Fame.