NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Super Bowl hero Julian Edelman has announced his retirement from the NFL after a 12-career in Foxborough. Earlier on Monday, the Patriots parted ways with the veteran receiver who helped the franchise win three Super Bowls. The team terminated Edelman's contract following a failed physical, which paved the way for his retirement.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old receiver has been with the Patriots since 2009, when he was taken with the 232nd overall pick in the draft. A starter on each of the team's three most recent Super Bowl championship teams, Edelman was limited to just six games after undergoing knee surgery in 2020. He finished the 2020 season with 21 catches for 315 yards, his lowest totals since 2012. 

"I've always said, 'I'll go until the wheels come off,' and they finally have fallen off," Edelman said in his retirement video. "Due to an injury last year, I'll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football. It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family. And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot." 

The former Kent State quarterback is second in Patriots history in receptions with 670, 12 receptions behind former teammate Wes Welker. He is fourth in franchise history with 6,822 receiving yards and ninth with 36 touchdowns. One of his best seasons took place in 2019, when he caught 100 of 153 targets for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns at age 33. Making Edelman's 2019 output more impressive was the fact that he played through various injuries that included injuries to his shoulder, chest and ribs. 

"By any measure of what constitutes an elite NFL career -- wins, championships, production -- Julian has it all," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement, via ESPN's Adam Schefter. "Few players can match Julian's achievements, period, but considering his professional trajectory and longevity, the group is even more select. It is historic. This is a tribute to his legendary competitiveness, mental and physical toughness and will to excel. … Julian Edelman is the ultimate competitor and it was a privilege to coach him." 

Julian Edelman
NE • WR • 11
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REC YDs315
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The MVP of Super Bowl LIII, Edelman is one of the most productive postseason receivers in league history. He is second all time with 118 receptions and 1,442 career postseason receiving yards. He caught the game-winning score in New England's 28-24 win over Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. With the Patriots trailing late in Super Bowl LI, Edelman's balletic, 23-yard reception helped New England complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Two years later, in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever, Edelman's 10-catch, 141-yard performance was the difference in the Patriots' 13-3 win over the Rams

Edelman's 24 receptions in Super Bowl play are tied with fellow former Patriots receiver Deion Branch for fifth all time. His 337 Super Bowl receiving yards are fourth all time, behind Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Lynn Swann as well as former teammate, Rob Gronkowski. His 10 receptions in Super Bowl LIII are tied for the eighth-highest single-game total in Super Bowl history. 

A dual-threat quarterback in college, the 5-foot-10, 198-pound Edelman threw 13 touchdowns while running for 13 more during his final season at Kent State. His versatility caught the eye of Belichick, who kept Edelman on the roster following Edelman's impressive rookie camp. Edelman ultimately blossomed into Tom Brady's No. 1 receiver during New England's Super Bowl runs in 2014, '16 and '18. Edelman's three Super Bowl wins are the most for any receiver that has entered the NFL since 2009. His contributions to the Patriots' recent success earned him a spot on the franchise's all-decade team for the 2010s. 

While he was never selected to a Pro Bowl, Edelman has earned a permanent place in Patriots lore, as he was one of the more important members of the team's recent championship runs.