Patriots: Julian Edelman reportedly retires in sad end to career

This is simply not how Julian Edelman’s Patriots career was supposed to end.

The lion in winter was supposed to ride off into the sunset, perhaps after his Super Bowl MVP in 2019, a conquering hero whose NFL career probably wouldn’t have happened in the first place without world-class heart.

He was supposed to mentor New England’s young receiving corps in his final years on the bench, occasionally able to break free in the slot once again and uncork one of his trademark plays that left defenses across the league wondering how exactly he got so wide open.

Instead, Edelman quietly retired on Monday, per Adam Schefter, though the transaction showed up on the wire as just another failed physical in a line of medical maladies.

Fans throughout the NFL were quick to joke about Edelman jumping ship to the Buccaneers, finding their medical staff’s evaluation much more palatable.

If the rumors of his retirement are true — and we hope they are, it’s better than the alternative — there was never an ulterior motive here. But that doesn’t mean the shifty wideout got to end things on his terms.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman has reportedly retired after a failed physical.

Even a few weeks ago, this can’t be how Edelman envisioned his 2021 season going.

You could see the enthusiasm in his always-cavalier social media accounts. Why would he be emphatically welcoming New England’s new tight ends to town in a jovial post if he never had any intention of playing with them?

Though Edelman’s road was no doubt winding down, we don’t think he would’ve made the executive decision to end things here if he hadn’t received upsetting news in his preseason physical examinations. We’d already heard tell he wouldn’t be able to complete a full 16-game season; this indicates the news was much worse.

In 2020, when everything was briefly rosy in New England, we were gifted with one final Vintage Edelman performance, in which he appeared to guide Cam Newton through the difficult waters of succeeding in this city. In Week 2 in Seattle, he was everywhere. He somehow beat Jamal Adams straight down the field. He cut side to side underneath the defense, clawing for every inch of turf. When the curtain fell, he’d racked up a career-high 179 yards … in a devastating loss.

Every piece of that game felt like a perfect legacy for the undersized former quarterback who could, except for the end result. Let’s remember how lithe he looked last September, and also the astounding diving fingertip catch that helped paint the ending of 28-3. The touchdown pass against Baltimore. The countless instances where he was Tom Brady’s perfect safety valve.

Often, in sports, we preemptively say we’ll never see history repeat itself. I can guarantee, beginning to end, you’ll never see Julian Edelman again.