Reimer: Julian Edelman is grossly underpaid, and it's time for Patriots to give him well-deserved raise

Alex Reimer
March 14, 2019 - 10:39 am

Imagine you are Julian Edelman. Over the last six years, you have caught 430 passes from Tom Brady, won three Super Bowls, taken home a Super Bowl MVP, returned to the gridiron after tearing your ACL, and suffered countless headshots trying to gain extra yardage over the middle of the field. 

And yet, you are slated to make just $2 million in base salary in the final year of your deal. On top of that, you read the Patriots reportedly outbid the Titans for slot receiver Adam Humphries, who inked a four-year, $36 million deal with Tennessee this week. 

That means the Patriots were seemingly prepared to pay Humphries more than $9 million annually, or in other words, greater than four times Edelman’s base figure. It would only be natural to feel slighted.

Edelman’s marriage with the Patriots has provided him with marketing opportunities (JE11 hats are on sale for just $29.99), Super Bowl appearances, and a lifelong bond with the GOAT. The seventh-round quarterback-turned-receiver probably never would’ve achieved this level of stardom playing anywhere else. Edelman is likely cognizant of that, which might explain why he’s never publicly pushed for more money. In 2017, Edelman signed a two-year, $11 million deal, giving him an average salary of $5.5 million, once all of the incentives are added in.

Cole Beasley, meanwhile, could earn north of $7 million per year from the Bills, after signing a four-year, $29 million contract with $10.7 million guaranteed. 

While Edelman is not a prototypical No. 1 receiver, he’s perhaps the most valuable piece to the Patriots’ offense besides Brady. 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.

Most recently, Edelman showed his incredible value during a career-defining postseason. Jules caught 26 passes for 388 yards in the playoffs, despite being the only receiver who demanded any sort of extra attention from opposing defenses.

Even though Edelman will be 33 years old this season, it looks like the Patriots will still count on him to serve as Brady’s main target. He and Phillip Dorsett are currently the only wideouts on the roster with an NFL catch in their careers.

Bill Belichick doesn’t usually dole out lifetime achievement raises, but if anybody is deserving of a pay bump, it’s Edelman. He is grossly underpaid in comparison to his inferior contemporaries. 

New England was sitting on roughly $20 million in cap space prior to free agency and its biggest expenditure so far is Michael Bennett, who will take up $7.2 million in cap space. Brandon Bolden, John Simon and Dorsett are relatively menial acquisitions. The Patriots have the money to pay Edelman more if they want to.

Usually in the NFL, players don’t get more if they holdout. It’s uncertain if Edelman would go that far, and frankly, he shouldn’t. It would be a shame if it came to that. 


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