The injury outlook for New England Patriots legend Julian Edelman isn’t looking good. Per a report from Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Edelman’s “chronic knee trouble” makes it “doubtful” he will be available for all of the 2021 NFL season.
Edelman’s injured knee has been a problem for the past two seasons, but it cost him ten games in 2020, which is the most he’s missed since he sat out the entire 2017 campaign after tearing the ACL in his right knee.
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Edelman finished the 2020 campaign on the shelf, and because he’ll be 35 years old in May, the Patriots may want to consider releasing him if he’s unable to contribute. Per Guregian’s report, it sounds as if Edelman has every intention of trying to play. However, the impact of the injured knee may make that impossible.
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Edelman had a procedure done on his knee last season in hopes of getting him back on the field in 2020, but that didn’t happen. Per Guregian, another surgery would only provide temporary relief and wouldn’t alter Edelman’s bottom line.
How Much Money Would Patriots Save if They Release Edelman?
Finding a trade partner probably isn’t realistic considering the condition of Edelman’s knee and his age. If the Patriots choose to move on, an outright release is the more likely separation method.
According to Patriots cap expert Miguel Bezan, Edelman’s release would create $2,567,657 in space if the decision comes before he earns his offseason workout bonus.
If Julian Edelman leaves the Patriots roster before he earns his offseason workout bonus, that would create $2,567,647 in cap space since a player with an $850K salary would take his place on the Top 51 list.
Dead money = $2,666,668 signing bonus proration. https://t.co/5OE8cJ3lLB
— Cap Space=$12,559,040 (@patscap) April 8, 2021
Because of this, you’d think the Patriots would want to make their decision sooner rather than later. One indication of the Patriots’ thought process could come during the NFL Draft.
New England is expected to draft at least one receiver later this month, but if we see the team take two, it’s a pretty good indication there are plans to move on from Edelman.
Potential Replacements For Edelman
On the Patriots’ current roster, the first player who comes to mind as a potential replacement for Edelman is 2020’s leading receiver, Jakobi Meyers. With his smooth route-running and improving separation skills, Meyers looks like a natural fit working from the slot alongside the newly acquired Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
There’s also Gunner Olszewski as an option, but he might be exclusively a special teams player in 2021 after making the All-Pro team in that role last season.
If you’re looking at the draft, the options become all the more voluminous. Purdue’s Rondale Moore is one option; Florida’s Kadarius Toney and Western Michigan’s dynamic and potentially underrated star D’Wayne Eskridge.
That’s just a shortlist of three players with the potential to step in and make an impact as rookies.
While Edelman’s news is unfortunate because it’s tough to see such a great leader not able to finish on his own terms, this could be the bitter side of what might ultimately be a favorable rebirth with New England’s receiving options.