For the large majority of Julian Edelman's NFL career, he's had the luxury of having Tom Brady, the most accomplished player at his position and arguably the greatest of all-time, throw him the football. That's a pretty sweet situation to find yourself in, but that well did run dry this offseason after Brady elected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, putting his two-decade run with the New England Patriots, along with his on-field relationship with Edelman, to a close.
The 34-year-old was arguably the closest player to Brady while teammates in Foxborough and openly campaigned for him to re-sign with New England this offseason, but that ultimately fell on deaf ears. While Edelman certainly would have liked to have seen Brady throw him darts up and down the field for the rest of his football days, he acknowledged during a videoconference on Monday that it's time to turn the page.
"I mean obviously it was a little different scenario, but you've got to move on," he said when asked about Brady's departure this offseason. "This is a business and you wish him well. And that is when you instantly start thinking about what you have to do for yourself to go out and contribute and help the team for the upcoming year.
"Obviously, yeah we played a lot of ball together. I love him to death, but the train keeps moving as it will when I am not playing here or something. It just always keeps going. We have to worry about the people we have here and try and prepare ourselves the best we can with the situation that we're in with everything we're dealing with."
Edelman reportedly is extremely motivated for the 2020 season and views it as an opportunity to show that he isn't a byproduct of Brady's brilliance. He's also looking to build off his career-high 1,117 yards receiving campaign from last year while also building chemistry with a new quarterback. Who that will ultimately be has yet to (officially) be determined, but the competition will be between Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, and Brian Hoyer. If everyone is at full strength, however, Newton certainly has the inside track at winning the gig.
So far, the former league MVP seems to be catching Edelman's eye.
"He's a specimen, for sure," Edelman said of Newton. "When you first meet him — just his stature. The dude is large, put together well and he's got a great energy. He has a great energy about himself. I was really impressed with his work ethic and his mindset. Just like I have been impressed with (Jarrett) Stidham's and (Brian) Hoyer's. I have been throwing with those guys as well."
New England's first padded practice isn't scheduled until Aug. 17, but Edelman -- along with other Patriots receivers -- have been able to put in some reps with all three quarterbacks vying to be Tom Brady's heir under center at various points this offseason. During a summer that has put reps at a premium, those sessions have been extremely valuable in building chemistry on the fly, no matter who wins the job.
"I think any time you're spending time with guys that deliver the football, quarterbacks, especially on your own and away from the facility, that's when you get to learn each other on a whole other level," said Edelman. "Not just as a football player but as a person and a family man, everything. When you learn those things, that's what relationships and trust are built from.
"I think all of the quarterbacks, Jarrett, Hoy and Cam, they've all been very excited to go out and just, 'Hey, let's throw. Hey, let's throw.' It's been great. You definitely need that time, especially with not having an offseason and getting to really see each other on the field with organized team activities. It was great to go out there and get some reps and try to develop some timing. We definitely need a lot more, but we're in the same boat as everybody else, and we're going to try to make the best out of it."
With Brady's departure, Edelman is now the longest-tenured Patriot on the offensive side of the ball.