Why Julian Edelman Should (And Shouldn’t) Make It Into the Hall of Fame

After a decade of fantastic play, the New England Patriots have officially parted ways with three-time Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman. While this might seem a little unceremonious, most believe that this is just a formality before the former Super Bowl MVP officially announces his retirement. Julian Edelman is one of the most accomplished receivers of the past decade and has one of the most unique Hall of Fame cases out there.

Update: Edelman officially announced his retirement via Twitter

Does Julian Edelman Belong in the Hall of Fame?

Why He Should

Nobody is going to say that Julian Edelman was the best receiver of the 2010’s – he clearly wasn’t. However, he had some of the biggest plays in the brightest moments. You can’t tell the story of New England’s second dynasty without Julian Edelman, and that is going to be enough for some people to vote him in.

A three-time Super Bowl champion, Edelman served as the most consistent and reliable weapon in New England’s during the height of their second dynasty. While Rob Gronkowski was unquestionably the better player, one could easily make the case that Edelman was more important to the overall success of the unit. After all, the Patriots won three rings with a healthy Edelman and “only” two with Gronkowski.

Edelman also saved his best work for the biggest moments. The former college quarterback is currently second all-time in postseason receiving yards (1,442) and receptions (118), behind only the great Jerry Rice. This is more than just accumulating stats over a long period of time, as Edelman made massive plays in each one of New England’s Super Bowl runs. In 2014, he made one of the wildest catches you’ll ever see and also hauled in the game-winning score. In 2016, he made the game-defining catch on New England’s last drive of regulation. And in 2018, he won Super Bowl MVP for his 10-catch, 141-yard effort against the Los Angeles Rams.

Why He Shouldn’t

Julian Edelman was a good receiver, but he was never a great one. The former seventh-round pick first earned a starting job in 2013, yet never managed to make it to a Pro Bowl or earn a vote for First- or Second-Team All-Pro. Now, there is obviously some human error involved with these lists, and Edelman probably should have earned a Pro Bowl spot over Jarvis Landry in 2019. However, the fact remains that was never an elite player, and Hall of Fame voter will care about the absence of personal achievements.

Assuming that this is, in fact, the end of the road for Edelman, he’ll finish his career with 620 receptions for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns. These are obviously fantastic numbers for your average NFL player, but the bar for the Hall of Fame is a little bit higher than that. If inducted, Edelman’s 6,822 receiving yards would be the second fewest of any Hall of Famer, behind only Lynn Swann’s 5,462.

Swann didn’t have the longest career, but he was one of the best receivers in the league at the peak of his career. The same cannot be said about Edelman, as he was never in the same tier as guys like Julio Jones or Antonio Brown. Additionally, when considering the passing boom that occurred between Swann’s career and the present day, there really isn’t a case for letting someone with “only” 6,822 receiving yards into the Hall of Fame.

Julian Edelman was a great player for the best team of the decade, but that isn’t enough to put him in the Hall of Fame. Much like Eli Manning, Edelman’s fantastic postseason efforts aren’t reflective of who he was throughout the vast majority of his career. Edelman is a first-ballot Patriots Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever wear the jersey, but he wasn’t quite good enough to earn a spot in football immortality.

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