NFL insider Ian Rapoport shares more details about Julian Edelman’s decision to retire

The Patriots realized Edelman's knee injury might be career-ending after he got surgery last year, according to Rapoport.

Julian Edelman Patriots retirement
Julian Edelman during pre-game warmups in 2019. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

After reports surfaced last week that Julian Edelman’s knee injuries might limit his ability to play in the 2021 season, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the longtime Patriots receiver.

Edelman and the Patriots made that speculation official Monday, with Edelman announcing his retirement in a pre-recorded video after New England terminated his contract with a failed physical designation.’s Ian Rapoport revealed on “NFL Total Access” Tuesday that both sides knew Edelman might be done after undergoing knee surgery last offseason.

“It really did begin last year,” Rapoport said. “Of course, Julian Edelman tried to play through a pretty serious knee injury. Actually thought he was going to come back late in the season after having surgery — just was not able to do it. Tried to practice, had a little bit of a setback, was not on the field again and at that point, it became very clear to the people close to Julian Edelman that this knee injury was troublesome and potentially career-ending.

“Of course, the Patriots took their time with this and let Edelman take his time, prove to himself he could get healthy. They tried to allow him as much time as possible just to be able to play in the 2021 season despite the fact that they also planned without him. They signed Kendrick Bourne, they signed Nelson Agholor. They moved on but gave him every opportunity. In the end, Edelman knew it was time and the Patriots knew it was time.”

Edelman has been hampered by knee issues since he tore his ACL during the 2017 preseason. Though he returned and racked up more than 850 receiving yards in each of the next two seasons, including a career-high 1,117 yards in 2019, problems with his left knee slowed him during the Patriots’ last playoff push with Tom Brady.

After two big games to start the 2020 season with Cam Newton under center, Edelman’s production faded, and his season ended after just six games due to the recurring issues. He finished the year with 21 catches for 315 yards.

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