On Monday, April 12 Julian Edelman retired from the New England Patriots. For Patriots fans this feels like just one more legend who will not be returning for the 2021 season.
First Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady gone, now one of the best wide receivers of all time has also stepped down.
In a statement released by the Patriots, Edelman said, “I have always said we are going until the wheels come off, and they have finally fallen off due to an injury last year”. The wheels falling off references the knee injury that he sustained. The injury caused him to miss the majority of the 2020 season, with him only playing in 6 games.
After Edelman released his statement, fans began to speculate that he would join Brady and Gronk down in Tampa Bay.
Even Gronkowski in an interview with TMZ Sports said, “He’ll be back” and “there’s a 69% chance” of him playing for the Buccaneers. This was most likely Gronkowski being humorous because with Edelman’s injury this is ultimately unlikely.
On Thursday, April 15 Bill Belichick held a press conference, “I have a ton of respect for Julian with what he accomplished in his career and how hard he works to accomplish it and a great appreciation for all that he has done for me personally and our organization” said Belichick.
The new challenge for the Patriots is now filling that roster with new talent. The 2021 draft has a surplus of talented wide receivers, and with the Patriots having a first-round draft pick of 15 they have the opportunity to take a chance on new talent.
The most notable wide receivers in the Draft that could offer a lot to the Patriots lineup being Rondale Moore from Purdue and Ja’marr Chase from LSU.
Moore is quick in confined spaces and has the tactical intelligence to lose defenders before he even catches the ball. Moore matches Edelman in size at 5’9’’ and 180lbs. Despite his size, Moore holds his own against larger opponents and is able to muscle down the sideline.
Chase has recently been rumored to be drafted by the Bengals but he would be a great wide receiver in the Patriots lineup. Chase is bigger at 6’ and 206lbs but can really move down the field. His bigger stature, combined with his long-distance speed makes him hard to defend. On top of that, his hands are great in the air. Chase lacks short speed however and isn’t as jumpy as Moore.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots need to make big moves if there is any hope for a successful 2021 season, and that starts with signing an “Edelman-like” wide receiver.