The New England Patriots are officially moving into a new era following Julian Edelman’s release and abrupt retirement.
The 12-year veteran called it a career earlier in the week after a failed physical following an injury-plagued 2020 season led to his release.
The former seventh-round draft pick — who played the quarterback position at Kent State before emerging as a slot receiver powerhouse in the NFL — will easily go down as one of the greatest and most beloved Patriots ever.
In addition to being the go-to wide receiver of the Patriots’ past three Super Bowl-winning teams, he exemplified the Patriots way with his grit, toughness and hard-working approach.
But while many celebrated the accomplishments of Edelman’s career upon his retirement, the conversation immediately shifted to this: Is he a Hall of Fame player?
The argument of Edelman being in the conversation for the Pro Football Hall of Fame centers around one main topic: his postseason accomplishments.
Other than his three Super Bowl rings and Super Bowl LIII MVP award, the 5-foot-10 receiver holds the distinction of ranking No. 2 all-time in the postseason record books in receptions and receiving yards — only behind the greatest receiver ever, Jerry Rice.
While those accomplishments are nothing to scoff about — Edelman certainly is one of the greatest postseason receivers ever — it doesn’t negate that he was just a good receiver, rather than a great one, during the regular season and for the duration of his career.
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We are well aware of the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters’ love for postseason heroes. But that mainly concentrates on the quarterback position.
And while Edelman would have an argument based upon his postseason numbers if he had a decent regular season track record, the problem is, he really doesn’t. Edelman ranks 75th in receptions and 156th in receiving yards on the all-time list. That’s not even mentioning his pedestrian touchdown numbers, which rank 261st on the all-time list.
To top it off, Edelman doesn’t have a single All-Pro or Pro Bowl nomination in his career. Not a single one. Think about that.
What skill position player has been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame without a single All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection during his career?
Even when comparing to Hall of Fame players who had short careers — Terrell Davis and Gale Sayers immediately spring to mind — Edelman’s case doesn’t hold up.
Davis was the most dominant running back ever over a four-year stretch, not only dominating in the postseason, but winning NFL MVP in 1998 in addition to running for over 2,000 yards in a single season — the third-highest rushing total in league history up until that point.
That’s not even mentioning his Super Bowl MVP or his three Pro Bowls, three first-team All-Pro selections or his two Offensive Player of the Year awards. The Denver Broncos great also led the league in rushing in 1998 and led the league in rushing touchdowns on two separate occasions.
In regards to Sayer — like Davis — he dominated during his short seven-year career. The former Chicago Bears great notched four Pro Bowl selections, five first-team All-Pro selection, NFL Rookie of the Year award and the fact that he led the league in rushing yards on two occasions.
Sayers was also named to the 1960’s All-Decade Team.
When it comes to Edelman, he never led the NFL in any major receiving category. He wasn’t named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2010’s. In fact, he wasn’t even the top receiving weapon on his own team during the Patriots’ Super Bowl run. That honor would belong to Rob Gronkowski.
Let’s also remember this: Edelman was a member of the Patriots, meaning he was a member of a postseason club every season of his career with the exception of his final season in 2020.
That means he played in 19 postseason games — which plays a major role in why he ranks so high on the postseason statistics leaderboard.
Take this into consideration: Edelman averaged 6.2 receptions for 75.8 receiving yards and 0.26 touchdowns per postseason game.
Over a full 16-game season, that’s 99 receptions for 1,212 yards and four touchdowns.
By comparison, Wes Welker — the best slot receiver in NFL history and the Patriots’ go-to diminutive receiver before Edelman emerged — averaged 6.8 receptions for 66.8 yards and 0.38 touchdowns per game in the playoffs.
That equates to 109 receptions for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns over a full season.
In other words, Welker basically put up slightly better numbers in the postseason than Edelman. But because of the lack of postseason hardware, nobody remembers that key fact.
Obviously, Edelman has very good numbers in the receptions and receiving yards department — bad in the touchdowns category — but nothing record-setting.
When factoring in Edelman’s pedestrian regular season numbers in comparison to the all-time greats, his lack of All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections, the fact he never led the league in any major receiving category, his place in terms of importance on the Patriots’ Super Bowl-winning teams, and the proof that his postseason numbers aren’t record-setting, there is no argument.
Edelman is simply not a Pro Football Hall of Fame player.
Sorry, New England.