"Nothing in my career has ever come easy," Edelman said. "An no surprise, this isn't going to be easy either. "I've always said, 'I'm a go until the wheels come off.' And they finally have fallen off"
"Due to an injury last year, I'll be making an official announcement of my retirement from football. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot."
The announcement comes after NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported he was cut by the Patriots because of a failed physical. But it was later reported that his release was likely a formality for his retirement, per ESPN's Mike Reiss.
In 2020, Edelman appeared in only six games and had 21 receptions for 315 yards and no touchdowns. He underwent knee surgery and was placed on injured reserve in October and was never activated again.
Edelman, 34, has played his entire 11-year NFL career with the Patriots since being drafted in 2009. He won three Super Bowls, including Super Bowl LIII against the Rams where he was named Super Bowl MVP for his 10 receptions and 141 receiving yards.
He ranks fourth all-time in franchise history in receptions (620) and receiving yards (6,822).
Patriots coach Bill Belichick called Edelman the "ultimate competitor" in a statement.
"By any means of what constitutes an elite NFL career—wins, championships, production—Julian has it all," Belichick said. "Few players can match Julian's achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select."
In his announcement, Edelman thanks his coaches, teammates, family and the community that embraced him ever since he joined them in 2009.
"I'll leave you guys with two words: Foxborough forever," Edelman said.
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