New England Patriots legend Julian Edelman was awfully close to leaving the organization before the beginning of their second dynasty.
Fortunately for the Patriots (and Edelman) he remained loyal and played his entire career with the team that drafted him. The result: Three Super Bowl championship rings and Super Bowl 53 MVP honors.
On Friday, “Julian Edelman: A Football Life” will air for the first time on NFL Network. Per NESN’s Zack Cox, there’s a part in the documentary where Edelman talks about nearly leaving the Patriots for the New York Giants in 2013 free agency.
That year, the Patriots lost superstar wideout Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos in free agency. Bill Belichick found a replacement in former St. Louis Rams slot receiver Danny Amendola, landing him on a five-year pact.
In A Football Life, Edelman talks about being “hurt” over Belichick’s decision to hand Amendola a hefty contract when the former had been on the roster for four years, per Cox:
“I was hurt. I did everything Coach (Bill Belichick) said, gave four years of my life, and then (the Patriots sign Amendola). I’m not going to lie, I was p**sed off. I was like, ‘Dude, you’re coming to take my keys to the Cadillac? Dog, what’s going on? I’m over here on a minimum deal. This guy’s getting $34 mil?…
Looking back on it, I had nothing. I (had done) nothing in the league. But as a kid, as a young guy, experiencing that for the first time, I was like, ‘(Expletive) Belichick. (Expletive) the Patriots. I hate everyone here. How are you going to do this to me?’ I took a visit to the New York Giants, and they offered me a contract.”
It didn’t seem like the biggest transaction at the time, but Edelman decided to return to the Patriots on a one-year deal. In the documentary, he explained his reasoning for picking New England over New York:
“I know how hard it is for receivers to gain the trust of Tom Brady, and we had a connection. If I’m going to go out and sign a one-year deal, do I want to go sign a one-year deal with a completely new team that knows nothing about me? I ultimately decided to sign a one-year deal with the Patriots. I think it was league minimum with incentives. So I signed that out in 2013 and went into the year.”
Amendola missed four games in 2013 due to injury, and superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski was limited to seven games on the year. Edelman emerged as New England’s top receiver that year, recording 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.
Though Edelman put up solid regular season stats with the Patriots (five seasons of over 800 receiving yards), he always seemed to save his best for the playoffs.
He came through in clutch moments time and time again for the Patriots. Among the more memorable moments: The game-winning touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, the unreal circus catch against the Atlanta Falcons to keep the comeback bid alive in Super Bowl 51 and of course the Super Bowl 53 MVP performance in which he caught 10 passes for 141 yards.