On Sunday night in Foxboro the Tom Brady-led Patriots crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers from the outset of the AFC Championship game to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LI in Houston on Feb. 5 where they’ll face Matt Ryan and the red-hot Falcons.
Leading the charge alongside Brady (besides Chris Hogan) was long-time Patriots wide out Julian Edelman, who has been one of Brady’s go-to guys for the last several years, but often slips under the radar when the conversation of best receivers in the league comes up.
Former Falcons great and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders thinks he knows why Edelman — who had 98 receptions and 1,106 yards in the regular season and eight catches for 118 yards and a TD last night — is often underappreciated, and he says it has everything to do with “reverse racism.”
“I’m going the say this, you can run with it, they can say what they want — it’s like reverse racism,” Sanders said on the NFL Network after the Patriots game on Sunday night. “I’m not lying. This is real talk. Julian Edelman, just because he is a caucasian receiver, they don’t give him the credit that he deserves. He deserves so much more. This kid can flat out play. There hasn’t been an answer for him over the last several years. Julian Edelman moves chains, he can get deep, he works between the numbers, works outside the numbers, he can throw the football, he can can run the football — he does it all, man.”
Edelman does do it all for the Patriots and has averaged over 10 yards per reception every year since 2013 and has two 1,000-plus yard seasons in that stretch as well.
However, Edelman certainly isn’t compensated like a guy who does it all. Edelman only made $2.5 million this year and will only take in $3 million in 2017, according to Spotrac.com. Those are hardly numbers to scoff at, but compared to the top-tier receivers in the league, that’s not a whole lot of money.
In fact, Edelman’s “cap hit” — the amount it costs the Patriots against their salary cap — is 32nd in the league at $4,421,875. Ahead of him on that list? Names like Eddie Royal, Kenny Britt, Marvin Jones and many more that are arguably not nearly as good as Edelman at present time.
The counter-argument is that Edelman is a possession receiver who has thrived in a role that countless Patriots wide receivers have thrived in before under Brady, including Wes Welker, Troy Brown and Deion Branch to name a few.
Either way, the Falcons will have to be sure to give Edelman his due, because he’ll burn them big time in Super Bowl LI if they don’t pay close attention.