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How Edelman Injury Report Might Change Patriots’ Drafting

Julian Edelman's uncertain status could have an influence on what the New England Patriots do early in the 2021 NFL draft

There’s been so much talk connecting the Patriots to a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, you’d almost think they lacked needs at other positions.

Obviously, the Pats, coming off a 7-9 season, need help in other areas, despite their mega spending on free agents last month. And a new report Thursday says the Pats might be wise to continue to add to their receiver corps because Julian Edelman’s status could be up in the air.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported:

“... A source familiar with Edelman’s situation, [said] it’s doubtful he will be able to play the entire 2021 season.”

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Edelman has battled knee injuries for several seasons and even underwent a procedure in the fall to attempt to alleviate the problem. But he went on injured reserve after Week 7 and did not return.

Due to turn 35 next month, there was no way to expect Edelman to be his old self, even if he was 100 percent healthy. The Pats’ all-time fourth-leading receiver in terms of yardage (6,822) was projected to be part of a receiver group that’s deep, even if it lacks a prototypical No. 1 target.

Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne were part of the Pats’ free-agent frenzy, joining incumbents Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry. If the Pats were going to go with the strength-in-numbers strategy over having a superstar lead the receiver group, they’re now probably down one of their key contributors, and might even have to consider parting ways with him rather than counting on him.

That’s where the draft strategy comes in. Perhaps the Pats would be best sitting tight at No. 15 and grabbing Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or anyone else from a deep receiver class, and then delving into the quarterback market on the second or third day.

Edelman has been a beloved figure with the Pats for so long not just because of his receiving yards and three Super Bowl titles, but because of the warrior mentality he always showed, including fighting through knee troubles and racking up more than 1,000 receiving yards in 2019. It might be time for Edelman and the Pats to accept that a warrior mentality can take a player just so far, and both the team and the player might have to start planning for Edelman’s exit.