The moment many Patriots fans knew was close but didn’t want to think about arrived Monday.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman retired from the NFL in a video he posted to Twitter.
While sitting in the middle of the Gillette Stadium field, Edelman says:
“Nothing in my career has ever come easy. And no surprise, this isn’t gonna be easy either. I've always said, I’m gonna go until the wheels come off. And they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year I’ll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. There are a million people I have to thank.
“Mr. Kraft, the Kraft family. I’ve learned so much from you guys on and off the field, Coach Belichick, you gave me my opportunity. Always love you for that. My teammates. We’ve gone to war, we’ve lost some, we’ve won some. You guys will always be my brothers. To all my coaches that I played under. I appreciate all your insight, all your hard work, all your knowledge. To the entire Patriots organization, from the meal ladies to people that clean up after us, to people in the hallways training staff to strength staff. We share so many awesome memories, and I'll never forget.
“And of course my family. You guys have always had my back. “It’s been the best 12 years of my life. It’s a hell of a run. I can't forget you, Patriot nation. You guys have welcomed me and my family to a region we do not know, we didn't know. But now I’m one of you. I’m going to leave you guys with two words: Foxboro forever.”
The Patriots terminated Edelman's contract because of a failed physical Monday. His departure leaves $2.6 million of dead money on their cap, but frees up $3.4 million of cap space, according to Spotrac.
Edelman, 34, leaves the game as the Pats’ all-time fourth-leading receiver in terms of yardage (6,822).
“Julian Edelman is one of the great success stories in our franchise’s history,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “There aren’t many players who earn an NFL roster spot at a position they have never played before. Julian not only did that as a seventh-round draft selection, but he is retiring with the second-most career receptions in franchise history and as a three-time Super Bowl Champion, including his last as Super Bowl MVP. No one was more committed to his craft and honing his skills than Jules. His explosiveness off the line, quickness in his cuts and elusiveness after the catch made him one of the hardest players to defend throughout his career. His clutch catches in our biggest games and overall toughness made him a fan favorite. Over the past 12 years, I have enjoyed watching him grow as a player, as a person and as a father. In 2019, I had the privilege of traveling to Israel with Julian, which might be the only place where he is more popular than here in New England.”
Said head coach Bill Belichick: “By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career – wins, championships, production – Julian has it all. Few players can match Julian’s achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. Day in and day out, Julian was always the same: all out. Then, in the biggest games and moments, with championships at stake, he reached even greater heights and delivered some of his best, most thrilling performances. For all Julian did for our team, what I may appreciate the most is he was the quintessential throwback player. He could, and did, do everything – catch, run, throw, block, return, cover and tackle – all with an edge and attitude that would not allow him to fail under any circumstance. Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him.”