Julian Edelman retired during the 2021 offseason after 12 NFL seasons, all of them with the New England Patriots. But he had opportunities to join at least two other teams -- and strongly considered one of them. Joining Peyton and Eli Manning on their "Monday Night Football" broadcast to close Week 11, the former Super Bowl MVP said Tom Brady tried to recruit him to the Buccaneers as soon as he relocated to Tampa Bay in 2020. Seven years earlier, Edelman added, he came close to joining Eli with the Giants, but ultimately decided to stick with the Patriots for the duration of his career.
"(Tom) hit me up the first day he signed there, like, 'You wanna come down?'" Edelman said of a potential reunion with Brady and Rob Gronkowski in Tampa Bay. "I was like, 'Absolutely not.'"
Edelman was technically still under contract with the Patriots when Brady left New England for sunnier pastures, but 2020 proved to be his final season with the Pats. He was, however, an official free agent back in 2013, when he flirted with the Giants before re-signing with New England on a one-year deal.
"It was pretty close," Edelman told the Manning brothers. "I went and visited down there in Jersey and met with (Tom) Coughlin and had nothing but respect for the organization ... but I looked at my choices of going back to the Pats ... (and) Peyton, thank you for taking (Wes) Welker off our hands ... and the rest is history. You guys are saying, 'Once a Giant, always a Giant.' Well, 'Almost a Giant, always a Patriot.'"
That's not all Edelman had to say during his "Monday Night Football" visit. He also revealed that another team, the Steelers, eyeballed him during the pre-draft process in 2009, when the Patriots made him a seventh-round pick. The catch? They worked him out as a defensive player, despite Edelman playing quarterback at Kent State.