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Patriots Free Agent Profile: Julian Edelman

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Taking a closer look at the Patriots' chances of re-signing pending free agent wide receiver Julian Edelman.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Between now and the start of the new league year on March 11th, we will take a look at each of the New England Patriots’ pending free agents, and their chances of sticking around in 2014 and beyond. We start with receiver Julian Edelman.

Name: Julian Edelman

Position: Wide receiver

Age: 27 | Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

2013 Season: Started the year as the third wide receiver behind Kenbrell Thompkins on the outside and Danny Amendola in the slot. By the end of the season, he was the Patriots’ clear-cut #1 option at the position, playing in the slot and on the outside, and racking up a team-high 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns.

Why the Patriots Should Re-Sign Him: Edelman rebounded from an injury-shortened 2012 season by playing all 16 games for the first time in his career, and by becoming Tom Brady’s most dependable receiving option throughout the season. Even as team’s began to key on him more, he still showed an ability to beat man coverage whether it was playing from the slot or on the outside. That versatility should allow him to play next to Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, or whoever emerges as the team’s #2 wide receiver. Plus, he’s only 27, more likely to be paid as a slot receiver, and is perhaps the only healthy receiver on the roster that has the complete trust of quarterback Tom Brady.

Why the Patriots Shouldn’t Re-Sign Him: The Patriots still need a player with both size and experience on the outside. Edelman now has the experience, but he doesn’t provide the size. Depending on how the Patriots view Aaron Dobson, the team may want to bring in a veteran to play that position. If the Patriots choose to go that route, and sign an Eric Decker or trade for a Larry Fitzgerald, they may not have the money to keep Edelman. Keep in mind that Danny Amendola’s contract is essentially fully guaranteed for 2014, and there wouldn’t be much of an incentive to cut him because of that.

Bottom Line: Bringing back Edelman will likely be a priority for the Patriots, and considering the market for slot receivers in 2013, the team shouldn’t have to overpay to keep him. It also helps that quarterback Tom Brady has been a vocal supporter of keeping him around.

Prediction: Re-signs for three years and $18 million, with $9 million guaranteed