Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Stephen Neal: Nobody Has Worked Harder

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer

12:45 PM ET | May 21, 2019

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have signed star receiver Julian Edelman to a two-year contract extension that includes an $8 million signing bonus and $12 million in guaranteed money, a source told ESPN on Tuesday.

The extension through the 2021 season includes $19 million in "new" money, and gives the 32-year-old Edelman, the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, a chance to finish his career where it started.

The extension was first reported Tuesday by NFL Network.

Edelman was scheduled to earn a base salary of $2 million in 2019. He also had a chance to earn a $500,000 workout bonus, $375,000 in roster bonuses and other incentives for this season.

After missing the first four games of the 2018 regular season because of a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Edelman totaled 100 receptions for 1,238 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games (12 regular-season, three playoff).

Edelman, 32, has three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, and had 10 catches for 141 yards in this year's victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

He has 115 postseason receptions, which trails only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (151). He also has six 100-yard receiving games in the postseason, which is tied for second in NFL history with Michael Irvin behind Rice (8).

After the Super Bowl, coach Bill Belichick noted how Edelman played quarterback at Kent State and made the transition to receiver with the Patriots after he was selected in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, a move that earned his respect.

Belichick said other than collegiate wrestler turned NFL offensive lineman Stephen Neal, "Nobody has worked harder than Julian in my career to develop his skills and his craft at another position."

In an offseason when the Patriots have undergone significant personnel turnover -- including the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski -- Edelman returns as quarterback Tom Brady's No. 1 pass-catching option. Outside of Edelman and first-round draft choice N'Keal Harry, the Patriots have a wide-open competition for roster spots at wide receiver.

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