The New England Patriots lost star wideout Julian Edelman for the season on Friday night in Detroit on the opening drive of their third preseason game. Edelman sustained a complete tear to his ACL after making a cut in the open field trying to avoid a defender and cap off an 18-yard reception. The 31-year-old is lost for the season and will now have to scratch and claw his way back through rehab if he wants to get back to the highest level of competition.
Tom Brady said it best after the injury saying just how much of a gladiator Edelman is and how much he and the rest of his teammates will be there to support him as he tries to work his way back to full health. Edelman posted a message on social media to all his followers this morning thanking Pats Nation for all the support he has received since the injury. “I will approach this rehab process the only way I know how, with everything I have, to make sure I come back stronger than ever. Thank you to everyone for your unwavering love and support. Tough times don’t last, tough people do. #GoPats”.
Edelman leaves huge shoes to fill in the Patriots offense, but fortunately for Tom Brady, he has plenty of other options to pick up the production that Jules has had over the last handful of seasons. “The team will have to move on and we’ll have to compete in this season without him. It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is so we will have to figure that out.”
Edelman has been Brady’s go-to guy over the last several years and has been a vital piece to both recent Super Bowl championships and also secured one of the greatest catches in franchise history against the Falcons in Super Bowl 51. Edelman had 98 receptions a season ago for 1,106 yards and 3 scores. Edelman also is fresh off a contract extension this off-season where he agreed for two-more years worth $11 million with $7M guaranteed.
Fortunately for the Patriots, with weapons such as Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola, there will be plenty of guys capable of picking up the slack on that side of the ball and catching passes from TB12. The injury also opens the door for undrafted rookie WR Austin Carr to make the team after an impressive preseason and training camp in his first year after being named Big Ten WR of the Year at Northwestern.
Amendola is the guy I most look at to be Brady’s go-to guy without Edelman. He has filled-in for Edelman in the past and plays a similar type of game to No. 11 and allows Hogan, Cooks and Gronkowski to remain in their same patterns and role while keeping the offense in rhythm without skipping a beat. Amendola also has something that takes a long time to be earned, and that is the trust from Brady. Amendola has stepped up for the Patriots when it has mattered most with a receiving TD in both Super Bowl wins and taken pay cut after pay cut for the betterment of the team and franchise. Brady acknowledged as much in an interview with Kirk & Callahan saying “I’ve had that (trust) with Danny and Danny’s been such a great player, we’re going to have to pick up the slack.”
The Edelman injury is a devastating one for all parties involved, but I do not believe in any way it will affect the Patriots chances to repeat this season. With the trade of Brandin Cooks this off-season, the Patriots have a surplus at the position and Tom Brady will have plenty of quality players to throw the ball to. We have seen Brady win and thrive with far less weapons at his disposal, nevermind quality replacements like Danny Amendola who has worked in the offense for years and taken over in Edelman’s role before.
For Julian personally, the recovery will be a trying one there is no doubt about it. For a player on the flip-side of 30 at that position in the slot, always needing to cut and avoid defenders, it will be a long and winding road to recovery. Brady and his teammates know just how much of a gladiator Julian Edelman is and he will be back catching passes and breaking tackles next season despite many believing this could be the end of his career. Edelman won’t go down that easy, not without a fight.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank