It was a simple announcement on the NFL transactions wire on Monday afternoon, but it could make a significant financial difference for Julian Edelman in the long term. Before he officially retired from pro football, after all, the New England Patriots officially released one of the most prolific players in franchise history.
The league’s personnel notice in its bureaucratic simplicity had to say the following about the move:
TERMINATION OF VESTED VETERAN
Edelman, Julian WR Kent State
The Patriots releasing Edelman was not just a prelude to the retirement that was the follow, the team actually did a favor by going down this road instead of having him step away in traditional fashion. Nothing was traditional during his 12-year career anyway, so why would that be any different?
As first pointed out by Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Benzan on Twitter, the organization releasing him has now made Edelman eligible for the NFL’s injury protection benefit. He is fulfilling all of the criteria laid out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to qualify for said benefit: Edelman was deemed physically unable before his release, has undergone club-mandated rehabilitation during the offseason, and failed his physical with the team.
The injury protection benefit will pay him $2 million come September. Of that sum $1.2 million will count against New England’s salary cap for the 2021 season, with the other $800,000 coming his way in the form of a benefit payment that will not hit the Patriots’ books.
Given that Edelman’s contractual career earnings alone are estimated at $41.2 million this number does not make too big a difference. However, it is still a nice parting gift and one that explains why the team opted to release one of its legendary players before he made his retirement from pro football official.