The New England Patriots go into another off-season with a decision to be made at wide receiver. More specifically a shifty, go to, 100 reception, slot type receiver. Julian Edelman of course is this years version of Wes Welker. Edelman is the ultimate Patriots type of player. Willing to do anything to help the team. He languished behind Welker for the first four years of career. He has done it all from receiver to punt returner and even helping out as a defensive back in the run to the Super Bowl a few years back. The Patriots are in a tight spot right now. They are tight against the cap with roughly four million to work with. This is a result of high cap numbers for Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfork (both are north of $10 million) and a $7.5 million dead money cap hit from the release of Aaron Hernandez. Call it the Julien Edelman Dilemma. He was a productive player last season, but his play might have earned him enough money to watch him walk. While Edelman had a breakthrough season with 105 catches and 1056 yards he is hardly irreplaceable. Edelman who I would love to have back, has probably played his last game in New England. This week some NFL media personalities came out expecting Edelman to cash in. While I believe Edelman deserves every dollar he can get, the Patriots would be wise to move on. Edelman's breakthrough came because of a few reasons. First he knew the Patriots system giving him a head start over the new receivers in New England. Second injuries to Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins allowed Edelman to become the top threat. Finally he stayed healthy. For the first time in his career Edelman played in all 16 games. As nice a player as Julian is giving him seven million a year is bad business. The Patriots need to address many other areas. The offensive line needs work. Aqib Talib needs to be resigned or a player of his caliber. The defense needs another safety and help along the line. Than you could look at Edelman. Edelman's production can be replaced by players already on the roster. Danny Amendola and Kenbrell Thompkins started over him to start the season. When Rob Gronkowski and Amedola came back together for a four game stretch Edelman was the forgotten man with 11 catches for 89 yards. He was the fourth or fifth option during those games. Amendola has been given the injury-prone sticker by Patriots fans, still he played through an injury that would have put most players on injured reserve. He has also only played 16 games once in his career. He however is capable of replacing Edelman. Soon to be second year player Josh Boyce could capably replace Edelman. He has good speed and quickness for the slot roll. At the NFL combine he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.38 seconds. His three cone drill was done in 6.68 seconds. Combine results don't always transfer onto the field but with an offseason in Foxboro he could improve. Then there is T.J. Moe the undrafted rookie free agent out of Missouri the Patriots gave a big bonus to, to sign. He tore his Achilles and the Patriots thought enough of him to resign him and put him on IR after he cleared waivers. He is not as fast as Boyce 4.74 in the 40, but his three cone drill was the best at the combine 6.53. He had a great season at Mizzou with Blaine Gabbert in 2010 catching 92 passes. If he comes back healthy he could add competition at the slot position. In a perfect world the Patriots would re-sign Edelman. However cap restraints figure to watch Edelman walk out that door. Keep this in mind though Patriots fans, no team has won the Super Bowl with a 100 plus catch season since the Patriots won after the 2001 season.
Teams that would fit well for Edelman. Houston Texans. This is obvious with the new coaching staff in Houston. New Head Coach Bill O'Brien knows Edelman well. Teaming him as the slot receiver in Houston with Johnson and Hopkins would be smart. Denver Broncos. I can see the Broncos cutting Welker and signing the younger Edelman to team with Denvers talent. Atlanta Falcons. Again more Patriots ties and a perfect slot weapon should the Falcons move on from Roddy White and move Harry Douglas outside opposite Julio Jones. Cincinatti. Edelman in the slot with AJ Green outside. Tune in Sunday's at one for Patriots Beat with Special Guest Chris Price of WEEI