Julian Edelman’s reported 4-game PED ban latest offseason drama surrounding Patriots
Just as it appeared everything was back in its right place with the Patriots, Julian Edelman reportedly has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, according to ESPN’s Field Yates and Adam Schefter on Thursday.
A follow-up report indicated that Edelman plans to appeal the suspension. If the suspension is upheld for all four games, he would forfeit $470,588 in salary. The league does not release what the offending substance was in these types of cases.
Edelman, 32, missed all of last season following an ACL tear suffered in an August 2017 preseason game at Detroit. He has rehabbed both with the Patriots and Tom Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, at the TB12 Center located near the Patriots facility.
On Tuesday, prior to the suspension being reported, Edelman was asked about his rehab and how hard it was not to push the process and rush the steps needed to get back. His words now sound a bit loaded, as if was hinting at what was to come.
“Everyone is a competitor,” he said. “Sometimes, you’re your worst own enemy when you’re trying to do that. But it is what it is, and it’s a big part of the process. I’ve got a lot of guys — [Patriots] training staff — helping me out ... TB12, all that stuff, to get to where I want to be.”
Guerrero being banned from the team’s facility last year (after he previously had access) is at the center of the reported friction between the Patriots’ power trio — Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft — and likely one reason why Brady was absent from all of the team’s voluntary offseason activities before reporting to this week’s mandatory minicamp.
It stands to reason that Edelman’s suspension won’t help the frosty relationship between Belichick and Guerrero, however NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran cited a source who dismissed what the suspension might say about Guerrero’s methods or his relationship with Brady.
“That would be so irresponsible,” the source told Curran. “That would be [bull]. And responsible people wouldn’t say that or report it, but that’s kind of the way things are today. People will say whatever they want and there are no repercussions.”
But how much will Edelman’s early-season affect the New England offense? Brady is coming off his third MVP campaign, during which he led the NFL in passing yardage and finished third in touchdowns, despite Edelman’s absence. The first response, then, might be that Edelman’s absence (barring appeal) for the first quarter of the season — vs. Houston, at Jacksonville, at Detroit, vs. Miami — isn’t a huge deal.
However, it must be noted that Brady’s regular-season receiving leader (Brandin Cooks) and postseason lifeline (Danny Amendola) are gone, as is longtime blindside protector Nate Solder, whose defection was thought to be somewhat offset by Edelman’s return and the incredible rapport he has with Brady in New England’s quick-trigger attack.
Edelman had a career-high 1,108 receiving yards two seasons ago and at least 92 receptions or 1,056 yards in three of his past four healthy campaigns. It’s unclear how long the Patriots have known about this suspension, but they signed jumbo slot receiver Jordan Matthews earlier this offseason and spent a first-round pick on Sony Michel, who’ll likely become the new run-game centerpiece as soon as earns the trust of Brady and Belichick.
The team has some depth but also many questions at the other receiving positions. Other options at wideout include Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell and sixth-round draft pick Braxton Berrios. Mitchell and Berrios have been limited in their on-field work to this point this offseason, and Britt just suffered a hamstring injury this week.
But Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski are back in the fold, making their first appearance with the team this offseason at the Patriots’ mandatory veteran minicamp this week. The tension between them and Belichick might have subsided some, but the Edelman news adds a new layer of drama to the Patriots’ offseason.