Patriots receiver Julian Edelman considered doubtful to play entire 2021 season due to knee, per report

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are in a pickle with receiver Julian Edelman. The veteran has been a key contributor during three Super Bowl titles and has been with the club throughout his NFL career, which began in 2009. However, knee injuries have significantly thrown a wrench in Edelman’s impact with the offense and ability to hit the field the past few seasons, including 2020 where he was limited to just six games before going down for the year. The soon-to-be 35-year-old plans to try and give the 2021 season a go, but the knee could rear its ugly head once more. 

According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, it is doubtful Edelman will be able to play the entire 2021 season due to the knee. She adds that while surgery provides temporary relief, nothing will be able to truly solve the underlying problem. Edelman underwent a procedure on his knee in October to alleviate issues but was never able to get back onto the field, despite briefly returning to practice. Guregian explained that the knee could force Edelman to be available one game, but be gone the next in 2021. 

This puts the Patriots in a tricky situation. Do they give a roster spot to someone where it’s essentially a coin flip whether or not he’ll be able to play? Moreover, do they want someone like that accounting for roughly $6.1 million against the cap next season? If New England chooses to trade or release Edelman, who has one more year remaining on his deal, it would be able to clear around $3.5 million in cap space while being on the hook for about $2.6 million. 

The club did bring in receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne in free agency and both are looked at as virtual roster locks for the coming season and 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry is currently still in the fold, as is Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. That’s also not mentioning the possibility of the Patriots bringing in another young face via the 2021 draft. Could Edelman serve as a mentor to this group? Absolutely. However, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will need to think long and hard about whether or not having the strong presence of Edelman to help mold this unit is worth a spot on the 53-man roster or not going forward. 

This is hardly an easy decision. Not only is Edelman one of the faces of the franchise but a valuable piece to the current fabric of the organization as it enters a critical season in 2021. If he’s able to play through this injury — as we’ve seen him do in the past — he’s absolutely worth keeping around. Whether or not that’s a realistic thought, however, seems to be very much in doubt. 

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