Reimer: Julian Edelman's big raise is best news of Patriots offseason

Alex Reimer
May 21, 2019 - 12:50 pm

It’s rare to see any Patriots player, or NFL player in general, receive a generous pay increase without becoming combative. Over the last year alone, we’ve watched Le’Veon Bell sit out an entire season, Antonio Brown quit on the Steelers during the final week of the season, and Earl Thomas refuse to practice -– all to varying degrees of success. 

Thankfully, Julian Edelman wasn’t forced to resort to those drastic measures.

The Patriots rewarded their most valuable player not named Tom Brady Tuesday, signing Edelman to a two-year contract extension with $12 million in guaranteed money and an $8 million signing bonus, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. ESPN’s Mike Reiss calculates the deal gives Edelman $19 million in new money.

It must’ve been a frustrating spring for Edelman, who saw his inferior peers sign contracts worth way more than his previous deal. Previously, Edelman was slated to earn just $2 million in base salary this season, whereas Cole Beasley inked a deal with the Bills for $10.7 million guaranteed.

Adam Humphries signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Titans, and the Patriots were reportedly willing to pay him even more.

While it’s true Edelman is the one who signed his two-year, $11.5 million contract in 2017, there’s something to be said about treating your guys right. To paraphrase Gisele Bundchen, it is important to feel appreciated at work. And now that Edelman is locked in through 2021, all eyes turn towards Tom Brady, who’s expected to sign a multi-year extension that would keep him in New England for at least the next couple of seasons.

One would be hard-pressed to find a player more deserving of a raise than Edelman. He’s sacrificed his body for the team over the years, from playing through numerous injuries to not missing an offensive play after taking a vicious headshot from then-Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor in the latter moments of Super Bowl XLIX. Edelman delivered his magnum opus last postseason, catching 26 passes and earning Super Bowl MVP honors, following a 10-catch, 141-yard performance against the Rams.

Though Edelman is not a prototypical No. 1 receiver, his value to the Patriots’ offense is inarguable. For example: in 2015, the Patriots averaged 35 points per game with Edelman in the lineup. But then he broke a bone in his foot against the Giants in Week 10. After that, the Patriots’ scoring average dipped to 25 points per contest. Their third-down conversion rate dropped from 50 percent to 31 percent.

Also, keep in mind the Patriots did manage to win a Super Bowl without Rob Gronkowski, completing the greatest comeback in NFL history while he was sidelined. They have not done the same without Edelman.

A seventh-round draft pick in 2009, Edelman broke out in 2013, which was the first season Wes Welker spent in Denver. Edelman is certainly cognizant of the “next man up” culture in Foxboro, which explains why he might’ve been apprehensive on holding out, even if it would’ve been the right business move to make.

But now, he won’t have to torture himself over those options. JE11 will get to catch passes from TB12 while feeling good about his place with the Patriots. Good work gets recognized.

Unlike most contracts Bill Belichick hands out, Edelman is seemingly getting paid for past performance. At 32 years old, it's unlikely he'll match his production from his prime over these next three seasons. 

But that's OK. Edelman is still not dramatically overpaid, and finally receives monetary recognition for his immense contributions to the second wind of the historic Brady-Belichick dynasty. This is the definition of a win-win.