The New England Patriots organization was hit with gutting news on Monday evening when longtime wide receiver Julian Edelman disclosed his intention to retire.
The announcement came shortly after the Patriots terminated Edelman’s contract as a result of a failed physical, which wasn’t surprising after a report last week strongly hinted that he wouldn’t be able to play the entirety of next season because of his lingering knee injury.
For everything Edelman meant to the franchise, this is a fundamentally depressing way for his career to end. If anybody deserved to go out on top, it was the former seventh-round pick.
Unfortunately for him, however, he was forced to walk away from the game on a permanent basis because his body couldn’t endure another taxing season.
While Patriots fans likely feel that that it’s too soon to engage in debate about Edelman’s legacy, you know this conversation is being had on mosts sports talk show around the country. So, without further ado, does the three-time champion deserve a bust in Canton?
Is Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman a Hall of Famer?
Let’s start by saying that we’d much rather be celebrating Edelman’s career than debating whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. However, this discussion was going to be had sooner or later, so why not just get it over with?
In our unbiased opinion, Edelman probably won’t end up getting the nod. Fans will point to his postseason numbers as a counter argument, and understandably so, as he only trails Jerry Rice (!) in all-time receptions and receiving yards in the playoffs. He also has a Super Bowl MVP and three championships on his resume, which sets him apart from the rest of the field.
With that being said, however, the regular season matters, too, and Edelman’s career numbers simply don’t stack up against current Hall of Famers and former stars who have both the regular season and playoff statistics to show for and still can’t break through with the voters.
Nothing proves that more than this damning Hines Ward comparison that went viral on social media shortly after Edelman announced his retirement. The crazy part is that Ward probably doesn’t deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame, either, when you compare his career numbers to some WRs who are currently enshrined.
After looking at that, even Edelman’s most devoted apologists would be hard-pressed to make a formidable rebuttal. The bottom line is that the Patriots legend ranks 156th in all-time receiving yards (6,822), which is fewer than Michael Crabtree, Dwayne Bowe and Jeremy Maclin.
Edelman also comes in 75th in all-time receptions (620), which is fewer than Pierre Garcon (!), Amani Toomer and Laveranues Cole. When it comes to touchdowns (36), he comes up short to the likes of Kenny Stills, Tyler Lockett, who entered the league in 2015, and Miles Austin.
If this was a debate about whether Edelman belongs in the Patriots’ Ring of Honor, well, we wouldn’t even be having it. He’ll obviously get in there at some point. However, regardless of how much we respect and applaud what he accomplished throughout his career, we cannot say with any conviction that Edelman deserves to get the nod for Canton.