Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady honored friend and longtime former New England Patriots teammate Julian Edelman following the wide receiver's retirement announcement on Monday (April 12.)
"I am at the top of the list because when I was down and feeling sorry for myself at times, you were right there to pick me up," Brady shared in a lengthy Instagram post alongside a picture of the two after Super Bowl LIII. "You were as tough as could be and I love you for all that you did to make our teams as great as they could possibly be."
Brady and Edelman were teammates with the Patriots during 11 of the wide receiver's 12 seasons. The duo won three Super Bowls together, including the Patriots' most recent championship, which saw Edelman earn MVP honors in Super Bowl LIII.
Edelman shared a video of himself on the field of Gillette Stadium announcing his decision on Monday (April 12) afternoon following reports that the Patriots released him from his contract after a failed physical.
"It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family," Edelman said. "And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. ... It's been the best 12 years of my life."
Edelman has spent his entire 12-year NFL career with the Patriots and ranks second in franchise history for career receptions (620), fourth in receiving yards (6,822) and ninth in receiving touchdowns (36.)
“He had a great career. He had an unbelievable career,” Edelman said. “But, I don’t know, we’re not there yet."
Edelman endured a frustrating 11th NFL season in 2020, which was limited to just six games due to a knee injury that led to "precautionary" surgery in October. The Patriots struggled in his absence, having already lost veteran quarterback Tom Brady to free agency, as well as several other key contributors, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“This whole year was so jacked up. It was so long, I just need to decompress for a little bit,” Edelman said via Pardon My Take. “I’m out in L.A. right now, taking my kid to school and picking her up, doing the kind of things you don’t get to do during the season, and I’m enjoying that right now.”
Edelman also provided an update on his recovery, saying he's "getting there" and has had plenty of time to reflect with an early offseason.
“It was a rough year when it came to just my physicality and how I felt,” Edelman said. “It’s tough, but this is the time where you sit and you self-reflect. You self-evaluate and you self-scout yourself through all last year. You’re really go in and try to develop a formula and try to develop a game plan for how you’re going to attack the offseason. That’s the process I’m in right now.”
The 34-year-old wide receiver was set to enter the final year of his contract with the Patriots next season, which carried a cap hit of more than $6.6 million.