Julian Edelman already had a strong case as the second-best postseason receiver in NFL history before he added a Super Bowl MVP award to his career accomplishments.
The 5’10 receiver was a pain in the Rams’ ass all game and finished Super Bowl 53 with 10 receptions for 141 yards. That was easily the most impressive offensive stat line in a low-scoring, 13-3 win for the Patriots.
Now, Edelman is second in NFL postseason history in both receptions and receiving yards — behind only Jerry Rice. If he wasn’t already the second-best playoff receiver ever, it’s gotta be cemented now.
What he’s not, though, is a Hall of Famer.
Immediately after the game ended, CBS analyst and former NFL receiver Nate Burleson said there’s “no question” Edelman will be in the Hall of Fame. Plenty of other people who should know better said the same thing.
As the MVP of this year’s Super Bowl, Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman is playing himself into a spot in Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 4, 2019
Stop it. That’s ridiculous.
Edelman’s numbers aren’t even close to deserving
Longtime Rams receiver Isaac Bruce finished his career with 1,024 receptions, 15,208 receiving yards, and 91 touchdowns. That yardage total is the fifth-most ever.
Those numbers don’t include the additional 44 receptions, 759 yards, and four touchdowns Bruce had in the playoffs. He also helped the Rams to their only Super Bowl victory.
All that wasn’t enough to get Bruce into the Hall of Fame in his first season of eligibility. Or his second, third, fourth, or fifth.
Bruce has been close — 2019 was his third year as a finalist — and he’ll definitely get in soon. But Bruce has been stuck in the Hall of Fame logjam like so many receivers before him.
So why on Earth would Edelman be even in the conversation for the Hall of Fame?
Edelman has 499 career receptions in the regular season for 5,390 yards and 30 touchdowns. There’s no way around it — those are pedestrian numbers compared to Hall of Famers. They’re more in line with a whole lot of receivers who were above average, at best.
Here's a list of players with more receptions than Julian Edelman: Jerricho Cotchery, Ike Hilliard, Heath Miller, Chris Chambers, Curtis Conway, Joe Horn..— Nik Bonaddio (@nikbonaddio) February 4, 2019
Julian Edelman has finished as a top-20 fantasy WR once in his career, #19 in 2013. He's got less all-purpose yards than Andre Roberts and Brandon Tate.— Nik Bonaddio (@nikbonaddio) February 4, 2019
Yes, his postseason performances have been amazing, but he’d have to lap the field to make up for the titanic gap between his stats and those of the all-time greats. He hasn’t.
Before Edelman — who will be 33 in May — is eligible for the Hall of Fame, there’s a long list of receivers who will presumably be in line for enshrinement. Aside from Bruce, there’s also Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, and plenty of others with better résumés than Edelman.
It’s not like wide receivers are getting inducted annually, either. There are none in the Class of 2019 — making it just nine receivers to get voted in the last 16 years.
All of that means Edelman is never, ever sniffing Canton.
Strong playoff performances aren’t a free pass to the Hall of Fame
It wasn’t that long ago that Deion Branch was the same kind of player for the Patriots as Edelman is now. In 14 playoff games with New England, Branch had 56 receptions, 852 yards, and four touchdowns. He even won Super Bowl MVP when he caught 11 passes for 133 yards in Super Bowl 39.
His first three postseason runs with the Patriots — two of which ended with a Super Bowl win — were impressive enough to get the Seahawks to trade a first-round pick for Branch. That was despite the fact that he never made a Pro Bowl or had a 1,000-yard season. It proved to be a bad move for Seattle.
That doesn’t really matter, because Branch is still a part of Patriots postseason lore. He’s not a Hall of Famer, though.
Neither is LeGarrette Blount — one of seven players in NFL history with more than 10 postseason rushing touchdowns.
Edelman will go down in Patriots history as a postseason hero. That’s enough. We don’t need to hurl any more superlatives and accolades at him.