Today, New England’s worst fears were confirmed when Julian Edelman’s MRI confirm that he has torn his ACL. His season is over, and his tenure with the Patriots may be as well.
Head coach Bill Belichick gives no allegiance to his players and has routinely made surprising releases or has not re-signed a player once there is a hint of a decline. Edelman will be 32 next year and now that he is coming off of a torn ACL, it’s easy to see a potential decline.
Additionally, cutting Edelman comes at a small risk for New England. Edelman only has $3.3 million guaranteed in 2018 and releasing him would actually give New England an additional $1.3 million in cap space, which would give New England an estimated $25 million in cap space.
Edelman’s role as the No. 1 receiver in New England was fading away as well with the acquisition of Brandin Cooks. Cooks will still be under contract next season and with a healthy Rob Gronkowski, Edelman’s targets were bound to be threatened. He was targeted a career-high 159 times last season.
Taking his place will likely be Chris Hogan while Danny Amendola gets a bump in targets as well. Edelman essentially replaced Wes Welker in this offense and did an admirable job doing so, catching 436 passes since 2013, the most by any Patriot in that timeframe.
But New England is a machine and Edelman is just a cog – and one that is starting to rust. New England may have to wait until he can pass a physical to avoid having to pay an injury settlement, but it will be a story to watch next spring and summer.