Determined to prove to the world he’s not just a product of Tom Brady, Patriots WR1 Julian Edelman needs to be “the guy” for Jarrett Stidham in 2020.
At this point in his career, no one questions Julian Edelman’s value as a football player.
There was a time not so very long ago when the former college quarterback from Kent State — a seventh-round draft pick — was considered an underdog’s underdog story.
Even after he successfully converted to playing wide receiver in the NFL, it was unknown if he’d ever amount to anything more than a terrific punt/kick returner who dabbles in receiving and cornerbacking from time to time if needed.
Fast-forward through Wes Welker’s exodus to Denver, and suddenly Edelman became “the man” for Tom Brady. Sure, Rob Gronkowski got all the touchdowns and the media attention — and with good reason. But Edelman was the guy for “gotta have it” conversions and chain-moving during the drives themselves.
Brady and Gronk are both gone now too, leaving only Edelman behind when it comes to Patriots offensive players who have been with New England for more than a decade.
Trusty No. 11 has had a great two years. In 2018, he came back from an early-season PED suspension to tally 957 yards from scrimmage in just 12 games. He also was clutch in Super Bowl 53 and won his first Super Bowl MVP award as a result.
To follow up this campaign, he set a new career receiving high for himself in 2019, finishing with 1,117 yards. His 100 receptions were also the second-most of his career, and the six touchdowns he scored were tied with his 2018 and 2013 seasons for the second-most of his career as well.
There are only two serious questions left to be answered when it comes to Edelman.
The first is whether or not he’s done enough — particularly in the regular season — to merit inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
The second is more immediate: Can he succeed without Brady as his quarterback?
We’re about to find out…
Best-case scenario projection for 2020
Edelman seems bound and determined to prove to everyone that he’s not just Brady’s buddy in 2020. Many fans and analysts (particularly those outside of New England) seem to think he’s just a product and extension of Brady’s greatness.
That, surely, irks a fiery competitor like Edelman. He’ll no likely be extremely motivated this season to prove he’s just as clutch and valuable with Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer as his quarterback.
Somewhat shockingly, Edelman has never been a Pro Bowler in his 11 seasons in the league. Without Brady at QB, it seems likely that could be the case forever — but his best-case scenario would certainly include finally breaking through in that regard and getting the attention and individual accolades he deserves.
Worst-case scenario projection for 2020
Edelman’s worst-case scenario is for the narrative that he’s no good without Brady to come true.
At 34, it’s fair to reason he probably doesn’t have that many years left. Retirement could come sooner than expected for Edelman, particularly given his aggressive style of play and propensity for getting injured.
Here’s hoping he can prove himself individually and sans Brady before he eventually has to hang up the cleats. If he’s lost in obscurity this season, it’s only going to get harder with each passing year of wear and tear he accumulates on his body.