- Edelman has had spectacular playoff and Super Bowl performances as part of the greatest dynasty the NFL has seen, but is that good enough to earn him a bust in Canton?
As is his wont, our pal Adam Schefter blew our collective mind Sunday night. But it wasn’t some breaking-news bomb that set off the Internet. No, it was a Hall-of-Fame take.
“As the MVP of this year’s Super Bowl, Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman is playing himself into a spot in Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Schefter tweeted after Edelman won Super Bowl LIII MVP for his 10-catch, 114-yard performance.
Let’s get the pros of this argument out of the way first. Edelman has proven himself to be a clutch receiver, especially in the playoffs, for a team that’s gone to four Super Bowls in five years and won three of them. Along with his hardware—three rings and Super Bowl MVP—he’s alone in second for playoff receiving yards and 833 yards away from Jerry Rice’s record. He’d need four postseasons at his current clip of 78 yards per game for a chance to catch Rice, but he would conceivably retire comfortably in second place in that category.
The other pro is that history smiles favorably upon dynasties, and after Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, Edelman would be the next-best offensive option to be enshrined in Canton. But that’s also a double-edged sword. Working against Edelman is the idea that as long as the Patriots have Bill Belichick and Brady, they can plug and play with whomever.
Edelman has zero All Pros or Pro Bowls to his name. (Remember what Brady had to say about Pro Bowls?) In nine seasons he has 5,390 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns. He’s No. 248 on the all-time list for receiving yards, with 29 active players ahead of him. Of those 28, 21 are receivers, and only five of the 21 have been in the league longer than Edelman.
He’ll enter next season at 33 years old with his ACL repair two years behind him. How much time does he have left—Five years? Six, tops? Even if Edelman tallied 1,000 receiving yards in each of his next five seasons, he likely still wouldn’t be in the top-50 all-time by the end of the 2023 season.
It’s also not as simple as placing someone in the Hall of Fame. Think of Canton like All Pros or Pro Bowls. Before you say someone got “snubbed,” figure out who you would take out in place of the snub.
There are 27 receivers in Canton. Only seven played a snap in this millennium, and really only three of them—Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens—could be considered receivers of the 2000s. That’s to say that it’s an incredibly elite class that still hasn’t let in Isaac Bruce even though he retired in 2009 behind only Rice in receiving yards.
Bruce, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, Hines Ward and Calvin Johnson are all retired receivers who deserve consideration before Edelman. Then there’s Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Brown and Julio Jones who are sure to get into Canton five or six years after they retire. And that’s before we even begin to start projecting the careers of Edelman contemporaries like Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins.
Edelman is going to need a lot more Super Bowl LIII performances and Super Bowl LI catches before he has to decide how much beard his bust should have.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit breaks down the tape from Super Bowl LIII. … Conor Orr writes that the mystery of Todd Gurley remains unsolved. … Several NFL commentators gave their exit interviews to Jacob Feldman. … Some AFC storylines for you to follow this offseason. … and more.
1. The San Francisco 49ers are flexing their territorial rights on the Oakland Raiders.
2. ESPN’s Mina Kimes on why the retirement decision won’t be an easy one for Rob Gronkowski.
3. The league’s only black general manager introduced the league’s only minority head coach from this hiring cycle, writes Jason Reid of the Undefeated.
4. Longtime Falcons kicker Matt Bryant was informed of his release Tuesday night. At 43, he made 20 of 21 field-goal attempts last season and should be scooped up quickly in free agency.
5. The Patriots will name former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano as their new defensive coordinator, replacing the departed Brian Flores.
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