By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady’s most trusted target won’t be hitting free agency after the coming season. Julian Edelman will remain in the fold with the Patriots for 2017, agreeing to a two-year extension that could keep him in New England through the 2019 season. Here’s a little breakdown of what the deal entails.
But first, a quick mea culpa.
Back on May 24, I speculated (recklessly) that the Patriots could be preparing to move on from Edelman after 2017 and that a surprise trade could not be ruled out. Now that it can safely be ruled out, I must say that I could not have been more wrong with that speculation. Sports blogging is a fleeting, often reactionary endeavor, and as someone who merely comments on the goings-on at Patriot Place from afar I came up with a crazy idea.
I took a shot and missed badly. So I apologize for being so laughably wrong about Edelman – but in this case, I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.
So the extension … it’s for two years, bringing the maximum value of the next three years up to $19.5 million, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Of that, $9 million is guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus and $2 million base salaries for 2018 and 2019 (the 2019 salary is guaranteed against injury).
The contract is also laden with incentives and bonuses. He can earn a roster bonus of $750,000 in 2017, followed by $500,000 each in 2018 and 2019. He can also earn a workout bonus of $500,000 each in 2018 and 2019, as well as $250,000 this season. The incentives total $500,000 each in 2017 and 2018, followed by $3.5 million in incentives for 2019.
The deal obviously sounds low for those who compare Edelman to other receivers around the league. But as Reiss noted, perhaps with some insider knowledge, Edelman likely valued playing for the Super Bowl favorite and continuing to catch passes with Tom Brady. That’s in addition to other potential financial opportunities Edelman could gain from staying long-term in New England, where he is a widely beloved figure at this point.
Now, if there were any season where the Patriots would ask Edelman to restructure or consider moving on from the prolific receiver, it would be the 2019 season. The Patriots backloaded Edelman’s incentives and added an injury clause to his salary for that particular season. Edelman will be 33 by that time and could be recovering from another injury, which would give the Patriots their own incentive to simply cut him if his production has dropped off, regardless of health.
The Patriots assumed a little more risk in this new deal with Edelman, but for No. 11 it’s worth it. He’s been one of the toughest, most clutch receivers in the history of the franchise and remains Tom Brady’s favorite weapon. With uncertainty surrounding the slot receiver position behind Edelman, the Patriots bought themselves some time to find the next slot man to develop.
But the “Life After Edelman” takes can certainly be put to rest for now.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.