After losing one of their top free agents in Aqib Talib early in the process, there were quite a few people who wondered whether or not Julian Edelman would be the next player out the door in the process.
Edelman and the Patriots couldn’t come to an agreement before the start of free agency on a new contract, and the veteran receiver decided to take his chances on the open market. Â However, in the end New England was where he wanted to be, and Edelman told the media on Thursday despite the reality he could have played elsewhere, he’s glad things worked out.
Julian Edelman ultimately decided he couldn’t leave Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and re-signed with the Patriots.
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“The most difficult time of this process is planning on the worst and that’s moving on and going to another place,” said Edelman. Â ”It’s very tough, especially when you’ve been in a place for five years and you’ve developed a love for the area. You have teammates, coaches that you’ve been through battles with, you have fans that are just outrageously great.”
“It’s just a great area to play football in,” continued Edelman. Â ”There’s a reality that I could have played somewhere else. You didn’t know what direction your life was going to go, so it’s definitely great to have the process over and I’m looking forward to getting started and doing this right now. ”
Edelman also said that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made it known he wanted him back, and when it came down to it, the veteran receiver admitted that the two have a good relationship and it would have been difficult for him to leave him behind.
“TB let it be known that he would love to have me back and part of the team,” said Edelman. “But Tom’s also a good friend of mine, one of the guys that’s helped me develop into a professional in this league. He also told me that I would have to take care of myself and my family. He just kind of mentored me through the process. It’s going to be a very tough decision. It was definitely a very tough decision that you had to deal with but TB was right there behind me if I would have left or if I would have stayed. I couldn’t leave the guy, he’s my dog. ”
Fortunately he won’t have to after signing a 4-year, $17-million contract, which Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reportedÂ Â also includesÂ a $5 million signing bonus and up to $8 million in guaranteed money, as well as an additional $2 million in incentives that could increase the total value to $19 million.
Edelman admitted that the fact the team believes enough in him to reward him that way certainly made him feel good, and having the security of knowing he’ll be part of the offense for years to come is something he’s glad he has now that his contract is out of the way.
“It’s good to have a little security and knowing that a team believes in you enough to pay you that kind of stuff,” said Edelman. “A little security on how many years I’ll be here, I’ve never really been in that situation. I’ve always felt like if I had a bad practice, I could potentially get cut the next day, like stuff like that. Ultimately it’s good to be back with this franchise and it’s a surreal moment.”
Now that he’s back, Edelman admitted he’s liked what he’s seen so far with some of the early personnel moves they’ve made, which has seen the likes of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, as well as receiver Brandon LaFell come into the fold. Â Edelman feels that things like that make camp and OTA’s more competitive, and he has confidence in the front office and the fact they’ll make sure they’ll be as competitive as possible when they take the field in the months ahead.
“I have full trust in what those guys do and who they bring in because it’s proven that it works,” said Edelman. “So, if we’re bringing in these guys, you obviously know Revis, how great of a player he is. Then Browner, how he’s had a lot of success over there on the West Coast. LaFell, having another receiver to have for Tommy [Tom Brady], so I mean, all these guys, it’s pretty good to have that. It’s just going got make camp and OTAs a lot more competitive. It’s going to make us better.”
After having been a part of this area for so long, now that he’ll be continuing his career here, Edelman also admitted that he’s ready to start calling himself a New Englander. That should be music to the ears of the fan base that has seen him grow quite a bit since being taken in the 7th round back in 2009.
“You know, I’ve spent most of my adult life out there so I can tell you right now, I know Boston better than I know San Francisco,” said Edelman, who is from California and visited with the 49ers during free agency. “I go to the Cape more than I go to Lake Tahoe. I mean, I guess I am a New Englander when it comes down to it. It’s pretty crazy to think but if you look at it close, I don’t know the city of San Francisco that well but I grew up 30 miles south. I didn’t go to the city that often as an adult. Now in Boston, I’m there three times a week. I guess I would say I’m a New Englander.”