Julian Edelman reportedly signed a two-year contract extension. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

Agreeing to contract extension now was smart move for both Patriots, Julian Edelman

Ryan Hannable
June 08, 2017 - 11:29 pm

There’s no question Julian Edelman is one of the most underpaid receivers in the game and has been for a long time. 

According to Overthecap.com, Edelman's contract in 2016 was 37th in the entire NFL when it came to average salary per year for wide receivers. Here is a sampling of receivers who averaged more money than him with their contracts last year: Allen Hurns, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Torrey Smith, Victor Cruz, Mike Wallace and Jermaine Kearse.

Edelman has 89 career postseason catches, behind only Reggie Wayne and Jerry Rice for the most all-time, and currently has an 11-game streak overall of at least 70 yards receiving. Since 2013, in the regular season he has averaged 6.47 catches per game, 70 receiving yards per game and totaled 20 touchdowns. His best season came last year when he caught 98 passes for 1,106 yards and three touchdowns playing 16 games for the second time in his career.

It is because of these numbers that many pegged Edelman as a candidate to receive a new deal this offseason. He was scheduled to have a base salary of just $3 million in 2017 and become a free agent after the season. Edelman reportedly received that new deal on Thursday, but perhaps it wasn’t worth as much as some would have thought.

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafalo, it's a two-year extension worth $11 million with $9 million in total guarantees and comes with a $5 million signing bonus and an additional $4 million in incentives. Ultimately, Edelman can make up to $15 million in the two years and is now signed through 2019.

This is a team-friendly deal, as even if Edelman makes the maximum of $7.5 million per season it would still have him as the seventh-highest paid member of the team in 2018 as of now behind Tom Brady, Stephon Gilmore, Rob Gronkowski, Dont’a Hightower and Brandin Cooks. In additon, 21 NFL receivers have AAV's of more than $7.5 million. Also, if he doesn’t produce on the field it’s even less money because of the incentives part of the deal. 

New England structured the contract nicely with the incentives to protect itself if he gets hurt or for whatever reason doesn’t perform to his capabilities. Also, it appears the deal gives the team some flexibility to get out of it before 2019.

Given what typically takes place during free agency and teams overspending for players, the Patriots could have got themselves a good price now because with another solid season this year, Edelman likely would have received way more than $7.5 million per year offers from other teams. 

Some may say Edelman should have waited to hit free agency or demanded more money because he’s likely worth more, but the reality is because he’s 31 years old he was better off taking a contract extension now.

Edelman has taken some vicious hits over the years and battled through numerous injuries — some more severe than others. More so than some younger players, he truly is one hit away from his career being close to over, so signing this deal gives him good insurance if something were to happen to him. After all, following this season he will have only made just over $20 million in total cash during his nine-year NFL career. 

The biggest thing for Edelman and the new deal is the $9 million guaranteed. Say he gets injured this season, his stock would drop considerably, as who would want to pay a 32-year-old free agent receiver coming off an injury who is already injury-prone as it is? It’s likely he would then be on one-year deals worth not a lot of money the rest of his career.

Being signed through 2019 now guarantees he has reasonable salaries for 2018 and 2019 — even if he doesn’t hit some of the incentives to push it to $7.5 million per year. It’s also worth mentioning it is quite conceivable with this extension, it ensures Edelman will spend his entire NFL career with the Patriots, a nice and rare feat.

For the Patriots, they made sure they have a core member of the team in place through 2019 at a somewhat reasonable cost, and for Edelman, he knows he will be getting paid reasonably well for the next three seasons without having to worry about the financial impacts of a long-term injury.

As has been the case with many recent Patriots deals, it appears to be a win-win for both sides.

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