Julian Edelman is calling it quits. He failed his physical with the Patriots, got released, and decided that was a good time to hang it up. Not a bad decision, probably for the best. He has no reason to chase rings at this point so why not hang it up and party? He’s a Patriots legend for sure. He owns one of the best catches in super bowl history and was a staple of the second Brady decade. Dude was a nobody when he came in and carved out a small space in history. He should be content with his story, I would be. Best of luck to the man. I hate the Pats, but do not hate the man. Jules seemed like a decent guy.

Of course, since we live in an age of content and takes, we can’t just wish the guy well. We can’t just look at Julian Edelman and go “yeah, he had a good run, he did some cool shit, good for him. Have a nice life post-football my man, watch out for CTE and all that”. No. Now we have to essentially waste everyone’s time and debate his hall of fame merits. Seriously. Almost immediately all the major sports outlets posed the question on if he’s a hall of famer and the debate began.

Well, some debate. From what I saw, it was mostly two camps. Patriots fans loudly and proudly trying to convince everyone that his case wasn’t a joke, and pretty much everyone else, who casually dismissed his case as a joke. I was, unsurprisingly, in the latter camp. I assume most of you reading this will also be in the latter camp. In the interest of giving his argument a fair shot, I will examine the arguments, but if you want my thesis right here and now…No. Julian Edelman does not deserve the hall of fame.

Before I rip the arguments to shreds I would like to extend an olive branch and say I do not personally blame any Patriots fan who was defensive about him. Edelman was a fan favorite, an important guy within the Patriots organization and he literally just retired after a long successful career. Of course emotional Patriots fans are going to be defensive about him on and near the day their fan favorite guy retired. I was defensive when my favorite player retired and I get defensive even now when people shit on Eli or even current Giants even though I am still a huge pessimist. It’s just part of the fandom spirit.

But if you are a Pats fan who thinks he belongs, I do not suggest reading further, because I very much disagree with you and I will not make you happy.

Lets take a moment to look at his case.
-SB MVP of the Rams/Pats SB
-second most postseason yards in NFL history
-3 Rings
-Several memorable playoff moments, such as the catch against the Falcons and the TD he threw against the Ravens
-Patriots fan favorite cuz he was gritty

That’s it. That’s his case. He has nothing else. What is posted above is Edelman’s entire case for the hall. Which is the #1 reason most people have casually dismissed him. Julian Edelman’s case is having 3 rings (good! Folks like rings!), a SB MVP award (a dubious honor), a few special moments (good!), and a few good playoff volume stats. That is it.

Julian Edelman has never been selected to a single pro bowl. Yes, pro bowls are also a dubious honor, based on dumb voters and other players, but none? Zero pro bowl nods? Pro Bowls aren’t huge, but they still matter to some degree and you’d think a player worthy of the hall of fame would have, at minimum, 1 pro bowl nod. Mitch Trubisky has one. Evan Engram got a nod in literally his worst season. It’s kind of damning that at no point did his peers or fans vote for him enough. (Pro bowl votes are apparently 66% players, btw, so you can’t pin it all on idiot fans)

This is to say nothing of All-pros, the actual, good honor. Of course Edelman has none of them. He also has no other awards or nominations. No Walter Payton honors, or offensive player nominations, nothing. I guess got offensive player of the week…once. Special teams player of the week…twice. So does he at least have decent volume stats for his long career?

No. Edelman isn’t in the top 50 of any meaningful WR stat. He’s 75th all time in receptions. He’s 156th in reception yards. He’s not anywhere I can find on TDs (he only has 36 total). His numbers might be a bit lower due to his early seasons as a special teams guy, but even adding in his all purpose yards and totals from both positions, he has nothing near hall of fame worthy numbers. Besides, he spent his early years as a special teamer because Wes Welker was better at the same position he eventually took over and he wasn’t very relevant until Welker left.

Pro Football reference, where you can find all the stats you want, has a HOF monitor stat. I’m not going to pretend it’s a perfect stat, it probably has a fair amount of flaws and cant account for plenty of things, but it is not kind to Edelman, putting him at a 36 when the average HOF WR is at 104. His listed comparison players are also not kind to his argument. Aaron Schatz, the man behind Football Outsiders, a statistical football website who I firmly believe started the site to have an excuse to make math formulas to show just how good the Patriots were because he is a huge Patriots homer, is not supportive. In an increasingly statistic driven league, the stat argument matters, and the stat people are not on his side. I didn’t see a single stat person argue for him. Most of them were laughably dismissive.

The day he retired, I got in multiple long arguments and debates with people because I’m an idiot and enjoy punching myself in the balls, and my longest and most heated argument was with the author of this blog post, who put together arguably the most reasonable version of the argument I’d heard all day. We eventually cordially parted ways, but neither of us changed our minds. I would like to mention that by the end of our exchange, he admitted Edelman was his favorite player, bias is very likely at play.

If you didn’t read the link, his thesis is essentially this:
Julian Edelman is a statistical outlier that will force Hall of Fame voters to re-define their criteria for admission. His playoff resume is just so good that it will give him consideration even without the usual regular body of work to back it up.

That’s a very optimistic take no matter how you want to look at it, and I don’t agree with it. To do what everyone else was doing during the debate, let’s bring up my favorite player as a point of comparison! (Everyone groans, here goes Dave talking about Eli again)

Eli was being used in the pro-Julian argument as another case of a guy people think deserves the hall based on post-season accolades. From this angle, it’s a good comparison. He has a playoffs resume very similar to Edelman. 2 rings, 2 SB MVPs, multiple absolutely iconic moments, 7 road playoff wins (3rd all time). Most passing yards in a post-season. It’s close enough to be comparable, even if you put Edelman higher. But the Eli comparison also highlights the problem with the Julian argument. Eli has a solid and substantial body of work outside his playoff resume. Eli is top 10 in career yards, TDs, and completions. He’s a Walter Payton man of the year winner. He has 4 pro bowl nods. He had the record for most 4th quarter TDs at 15 for several years. The Ironman streak.

The debate around Eli’s playoff accolades is whether or not they are good enough to put him over the top in addition to his regular career performance. Eli does have some great career numbers, but he’s also got several duds, like his .500 record and interceptions, lack of all pros and MVPs. His argument is that in addition to a good career overall, he also had an incredible postseason resume. Edelman has the incredible post-season resume, but he has nothing else. Basically, if someone thinks Edelman deserves the hall but Eli doesn’t, they are smoking crack and not operating on any level of meaningful logic.

You can even level some of the criticisms Eli’s case gets against Julian Edelman too. Eli’s top ten metrics are frequently dismissed as a result of his longevity by critics. Stat Compiling. You can also apply that line of logic to Edelman, no? That amazing second most postseason yardage stat isn’t partially due to being on a team that went to the playoffs pretty much every single year of his career? He’s played 19 playoff games. Few players have the kind of opportunity Julian had to log numbers in the first place. You give Larry Fitzgerald or Julio as many playoff games as Edelman’s played and see how their numbers inflate. Larry Fitzgerald has over half of Edeman’s yardage, and he’s played less than half of Edelman’s games, at 9.

On top of that, for all the yards he compiled, he’s nowhere near the playoff TD top ten. Gronk is! Julian’s numbers are good, but his averages aren’t that spectacular, which might be more indicative of how he reached that number. The second most playoff yards stat is a substantial notch in Julian’s belt, don’t get me wrong, but even that massive load bearing argument stat still has  cracks.

He was clutch and tough as nails. Cool. Being gritty and doing the dirty work for the offense makes you a good teammate and an excellent role player, it doesn’t make you a hall of famer. However, it does make you an extreme fan favorite, every fan loves the guy who puts it on the line for the team. This might explain the level of fanaticism around him from the fanbase. Being a dependable dude is great! It does not make you a hall of famer. Almost every HoFer was dependable and put it on the line for his team, except for maybe Deion Sanders.

As a few small extra arguments, he got caught with PEDs once, which is a knock against him. I’m personally not too bothered by that but cheating will absolutely be a thing for a lot of people. On top of that, Julian is the least deserving WR that is going to be caught in the WR logjam the hall is currently facing. Torry Holt. Reggie Wayne. Soon Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Andre Johnson, and Anquan Boldin will also be sitting outside, waiting their turns. Julio might not last much longer. Hines Ward, a comparable player to Edelman and someone I think deserves it more, hasn’t gotten in yet. Donald Driver and Ochocinco have outside cases as well and are eligible soon.

Eli will end up being a good barometer for his chances. If Eli goes in first ballot, a lot of people are going to be furious, but that will actually bode well for Edelman. If you are pro-Edelman, you need to root for Eli. I’m not sure it’ll be enough, but he at least has a chance if Eli cruises in with ease. The hall is and should be difficult to get into, and not getting in shouldn’t really be some knock. Edelman is a longshot no matter how you slice it but not getting in the Hall will not be some insult to his career.

Basically, the pro Edelman side has felt like a lot of emotional feelings shouted with cries of “He has a better case than you think!” and you know what? Maybe he does. The problem is that case still isn’t nearly good enough. That’s why pretty much everyone not a Patriots fan has been so quick to casually dismiss it. In 5 years, a lot of those emotions will be far more muted, and his career will have to make most of his case. It just isn’t enough.

Edelman is a Patriots legend and deserving of a place in the Foxboro ring of honor. He deserves the wonderful affectionate sendoff the Patriots will give him. He can retire happy and satisfied as far as I can tell. He should be remembered as a good football player and a cool guy, and we should celebrate that. It honestly ruins his sendoff to turn it into some big hall argument.