The New England Patriots' worst fears were confirmed Saturday morning when an MRI showed that wide receiver Julian Edelman has indeed torn his ACL, reports Albert Breer of The MMQB and Adam Schefter of ESPN. 

The Patriots announced Saturday afternoon that Edelman will miss the 2017 season.

Edelman suffered the injury while running with the football after the catch during the team's third preseason game. It was a non-contact injury that everyone immediately knew looked very serious. Given that we now know it's an ACL tear, it's all but inevitable that Edelman will miss the entire 2017 season. 

Edelman, who signed a wildly below-market extension earlier this offseason, has been Tom Brady's most consistently reliable target for several years. His absence will likely have a strong effect on the team's passing game, as he was the intended receiver on 29 percent of the Patriots' pass attempts last season. That leaves a significant portion of the targets to be redistributed between players like newcomer Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Rob Gronkowski, and Dwayne Allen, as well as the team's running backs.

Brady is either the best quarterback ever or merely one of the best, and he has plenty of weapons still at his disposal, so he should be just fine, but it's definitely going to be an adjustment. Brady's numbers dropped off considerably when Edelman missed the final seven games of the 2015 season, for example.

First 967.8%8.2243111.1
Last 759.5%6.812489.1

It should be noted that Gronkowski sat out one of those final seven games as well and wasn't really 100 percent the rest of the way, and that Brady now has several additional high-level weapons to work with compared to what he had the last time Edelman had to sit, but losing such an important part of the offense is still a blow. The chemistry he has with Edelman cannot be matched by anybody else on the team, and the Pats will now have to adjust to run their offense a little bit differently than they planned to. 

They'll figure it out because they're the Patriots and that's why they do. SportsLine projects no change in the team's forecast despite the injury due to the team's depth at the position, per Stephen Oh. They're still Super Bowl favorites, but if injuries begin to stack on top of each other, they might wind up falling back to the pack.