Ah, mid-February. A time for honoring the people we love, US Presidents, Mardi Gras, Lent, and packing on and extra layer of blubber under all that fleece, and on top of last year's layer of blubber. And in the world of pro football and the media that circles in orbit around it's gravitational pull, it's the time for hot takes. The crazier the better.
So when ESPN's Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler gave their annual predictions (paywall) for surprise salary cap casualties, they're not going to move the needle by saying the Patriots will dump the long snapper or some secondary depth guy like the lesser of two McCourtys. Instead, they put on the heavy duty oven mitts and pulled this Molten Lava Take out of the kiln:
“An Edelman cut would surprise a lot of people, but he’s coming off a season in which he played just six games and the team has younger receivers who likely are a bigger part of its future. It might be best to hasten the inevitable and let Edelman go be free to sign with the Buccaneers.”
Whoa! Welcome to Flavortown! That's how you generate those clicks. With the wildest, most off the wall call imaginable.
Every year when we're in the buildup to free agency and the roster is being turned over, inevitably I'm forced to say the same thing: That the most surprising thing about Bill Belichick is that he's still capable of surprising us. He's built and sustained this Dynasty (yes, I'm still referring to it in the present tense, lay off me) with stunning personnel moves. Same with the final roster at the end of camp. He's dropped a hundred bombs and a dozen or so nukes. From trades to letting free agents walk to giving key veterans their outright release. But dumping Julian Edelman now would be the Castle Bravo high-yield thermonuclear weapon test. Which went off with a blast equal to 15 megatons of TNT and made the Hiroshima bomb look like the explosion that took out Jason Pierre Paul's fingers.
Just so we understand what's being predicted here, yes, Edelman only played in six games last year. And still finished fourth on the team in receiving yards with 315, behind only Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd and James White. And ahead of N'Keal Harry (309 in 14 games) and the entire tight end depth chart (254 yards combined in 27 total games). And that was with him playing through injuries. Speculating is a waste of time but given the abomination that was the Patriots receiving corps, it's possible that with a reasonable facsimile of 2019 Edelman (16 games, 100 receptions, 1,117 yards, six touchdowns), this team could've been above .500 and at least in the playoff chase with a week to go.
Moreover, it's not like GM Bill is being crushed under the weight of Edelman's salary. According to Over the Cap, his hit is $6,104,168. That's just 32nd at his position in the entire league. Or just about half what Brandin Cooks is getting in Houston. And if he's fully recovered and has any chance of being close to what he was, his presence in your receiver room is the best chance you have that you can text a free agent quarterback and not have him reply "who this" and then block your number. And even at 75% of giving you The Full Edelman, he is your best wideout by a million light years.
This is not me saying it can't possibly happen. GM Bill traded Jimmy Garoppolo for a 2nd rounder and let Tom Brady walk and handed Gronk over to join him without blinking. He could release Edelman, issue a press release about how much he always appreciated "the player," and then go home and sleep like a baby. What I am saying if it happens, it will be the mother of all shocks. And that Edelman will win his second Super Bowl MVP. In Tampa.