Julian Edelman is one of the defining players of the back half of the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Patriots dynasty, winning three Super Bowls with the franchise and taking home Super Bowl LIII MVP honors.
But he nearly left New England before any of those championships and accolades, he admits in an upcoming episode of NFL Network’s A Football Life.
Ahead of the 2013 season, Edelman—who had just 714 career receiving yards and four touchdowns in four seasons at the time—says he was hurt by the team’s decision to sign Danny Amendola, who filled a similar slot receiver role. Edelman felt he had earned the right to inherit the job vacated by Wes Welker and that Bill Belichick was bypassing him.
“I was hurt,” Edelman says on the show, which premieres Friday, per NESN. “I did everything Coach [Belichick] said, gave four years of my life, and then [the Patriots sign Amendola]. I’m not going to lie. I was pissed off. I was like, ‘Dude, you’re coming to take my keys to the Cadillac? Dog, what’s going on? I’m over here on a minimum deal. This guy’s getting $34 mil?’”
Edelman had just finished his rookie NFL deal, which paid out approximately $1.8 million over four years to the former seventh-round pick out of Kent State. With Amendola coming in, Edelman received a tempting offer from the Giants. But Edelman settled for a lesser one-year deal worth $765,000 with New England.
“Looking back on it, I had nothing,” Edelman said. “I [had done] nothing in the league. But as a kid, as a young guy, experiencing that for the first time, I was like, ‘[Expletive] Belichick. [Expletive] the Patriots. I hate everyone here. How are you going to do this to me?’ I took a visit to the New York Giants, and they offered me a contract.”
Ultimately, Edelman trusted in his connection with Brady and returned to New England, afraid to leave behind the chemistry he had built with the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
“I know how hard it is for receivers to gain the trust of Tom Brady, and we had a connection,” Edelman said. “If I’m going to go out and sign a one-year deal, do I want to go sign a one-year deal with a completely new team that knows nothing about me? I ultimately decided to sign a one-year deal with the Patriots. I think it was league minimum with incentives. So I signed that out in 2013 and went into the year.”
Even with Amendola flanking him, Edelman enjoyed a breakout season in ’13, catching 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. He signed a four-year, $17 million deal the following offseason and won his first of three Super Bowls in the 2014 season.
In Super Bowl LIII at the end of the 2018 season, he caught 10 passes for 141 yards to lead all players in yards from scrimmage in the Patriots’ 13–3 win over the Rams, earning MVP honors.
Edelman retired after the 2021 season, having played his entire 12-year career in New England.
A Football Life: Julian Edelman premieres on Friday at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network.
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