Patriots: Here’s why cutting Julian Edelman isn’t the answer
By Jerry Trotta
It goes without saying that the New England Patriots could prove to benefit from completely overhauling their wide receiving corps, which was one of the weakest in the league for the second consecutive season in 2020.
Outside of former undrafted talent Jakobi Meyers, who led the team in receptions (59), receiving yards (729) and yards per target (9.0), no other wideout logged more than 50 catches or 605 receiving yards.
That’s admittedly a huge indictment on quarterback Cam Newton, but everybody knows that his pass catchers didn’t offer him much support.
As far as changes that could be made, some have suggested releasing Julian Edelman after a knee injury limited him to just six games.
Even when he was on the field, the normally-reliable veteran was largely invisible on offense, averaging just 3.5 catches for 52.5 yards per contest while logging his lowest snap share (26%) since his rookie year.
While you could certainly make a case for the Patriots cutting Edelman this offseason and saving a few bucks, maybe that’s not the best idea. Perhaps the team should actually bring him back for the final year of his contract.
Should the Patriots cut veteran receiver Julian Edelman?
A panel of ESPN insiders identified cut candidates from all 32 teams in a recent column, and here’s what Dan Graziano had to say about why the Patriots should rip the proverbial band aid off and release Edelman.
"“An Edelman cut would surprise a lot of people, but he’s coming off a season in which he played just six games and the team has younger receivers who likely are a bigger part of its future. It might be best to hasten the inevitable and let Edelman go be free to sign with the Buccaneers.”"
We totally understand where Graziano is coming from here as axing Edelman would free up $3.44 million that could be used on a potential blockbuster free agent signing. However, the 34-year-old wideout is just too valuable to the Patriots’ locker room to be let go for nothing. It’d be an entirely different story if he was slated to account for a $10 million cap hit or something along those lines, but that simply isn’t the case here.
The Patriots have a largely inexperienced receiving corps, so they could stand to benefit from keeping a player of Edelman’s prestige and intelligence around. Who else is going to mentor the young WRs and help them learn the playbook? The answer is nobody, so Edelman is really invaluable to the team in that regard.
Then, of course, the Patriots have to consider where Edelman will likely end up if they part ways with him. Based on the praise he gave Tom Brady after he captured his seventh championship two weeks ago, you just know know the former seventh-round pick would find a way to reunite with his quarterback on the Buccaneers.
Is Edelman enjoying an incredible bounce back season in Tampa Bay really something the Patriots want to live with? Based on everything that transpired in 2020 after Brady left last offseason, cutting the veteran wideout would come back to haunt them immediately, so the answer is no.
If we had to choose between keeping Edelman, who could be productive next season assuming he’s fully recovered from that knee injury, or cutting him and potentially watching him go flourish with the Buccaneers, we’d side with keeping him every day of the week.