Three-time Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman announced his retirement on Monday following his release from the New England Patriots. The wide receiver played all 12 seasons of his NFL career with the Patriots.
Foxboro Forever pic.twitter.com/x3SDDPJoTX
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) April 12, 2021
A seventh-round draft pick in 2009 out of Kent State, Julian Edelman spent his collegiate days playing quarterback. However, he ultimately became one of the most decorated receivers to ever suit up for the Patriots. He ranks second in franchise history in catches (620) and fourth in receiving yards (6,822). The 34-year-old hauled in 34 receiving touchdowns.
Edelman’s biggest career achievement came by securing Super Bowl LIII MVP honors in a win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Never forget when Julian Edelman torched the Rams secondary and earned himself a Super Bowl MVP.
Very very tough to see the Edelman chapter in New England end. Edelman has been an absolute warrior his entire career. pic.twitter.com/pjPToNzWyx
— Pats Buzz (@PatsBuzz) April 12, 2021
With Edelman’s career now behind him, NFL pundits and fans alike are debating whether the Patriots icon should be enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame. Let’s review the arguments in favor (and against) of Julian Edelman making the Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.
The case for Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman thrived in the postseason like few others before him. In addition to winning three rings and reaching five Super Bowls with New England, the wideout ranks second in NFL history in both postseason receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,442). The only player he trails in those categories?—Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in NFL history who accumulated 151 playoff receptions for 2,245 yards.
In the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl victory following the 2018 NFL season, Julian Edelman was named MVP after reeling in 10 passes for 141 yards versus the Rams. He had memorable moments in his other two Super Bowl wins, too. Edelman’s fingertip grab helped the Patriots engineer the greatest Super Bowl comeback in history, overcoming a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons.
One of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history—Julian Edelman vs. the Falcons 🙏
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 12, 2021
Julian Edelman also caught the game-winning touchdown in the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He collected nine receptions for 109 yards in the 28-24 thrilling win.
Julian Edelman is responsible for three of the NFL’s most iconic plays over the last decade:
1. The Catch against the Falcons
2. Touchdown pass to Amendola in Ravens playoff win
3. Game-winning TD catch vs. Seahawks
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 12, 2021
With the game on the line, the ultra-clutch Julian Edelman was the most reliable target for former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Always performing on the biggest stage, Edelman’s 24 catches in Super Bowl games are tied for fifth all time. His 337 Super Bowl receiving yards are the fourth-most in league history.
The case against Julian Edelman
The major flaw in Edelman’s resume is his lack of Pro Bowl appearances. Failing to make a single Pro Bowl, Julian Edelman eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in a season just three times. Furthermore, the slot receiver never scored more than seven touchdowns in a single year.
In 12 years with the Patriots, Julian Edelman led the Patriots in receiving just three times. From a statistical standpoint, it’s fair to argue the legitimacy of Edelman’s stardom.
Another concern for Julian Edelman is how he stacks up against other eligible receivers. Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Hines Ward has been unable to make into Canton the past five years and his career achievements appear to easily outrank Edelman’s:
love Julian Edelman…
but compare his career to Hines Ward, who can't make the final ballot in HOF voting the last 5 years
Super Bowl MVPs
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) April 12, 2021
Verdict: Not a Hall of Famer
Julian Edelman is first eligible to make the Hall of Fame in 2026. It’s hard to foresee him earning first-ballot recognition from the NFL, so his best shot likely will come in 2027 and beyond.
As noted, Julian Edelman served as a key member of the Patriots’ three titles during the 2010’s, so he could one day make the NFL Hall of Fame. But the most likely scenario is he makes the Patriots Hall of Fame and gets his number retired by the team—but ultimately does not receive a gold jacket for Canton.