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Julian Edelman is one of the top receivers in the NFL and it's time he gets paid like one

by: Ryan Hannable on Wed, 02/15/2017 - 10:38pm

Julian Edelman is a candidate for a contract extension this offseason. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)This player has 89 career postseason catches, behind only Reggie Wayne and Jerry Rice for the most all-time, and currently has an 11-game streak of at least 70 yards receiving.

The answer to who the player is may be a bit surprising: It's Julian Edelman.

Over the past few seasons, Edelman has turned into one of the better receivers in the entire NFL. Although he's only played full seasons in two of the last four years, since 2013 in the regular season he has averaged 6.47 catches per game, 70 receiving yards per game and totaled 20 touchdowns. His best season came this past year when he caught 98 passes for 1,106 yards and three touchdowns.

His impressive play continued into the postseason when in the three games he caught 21 passes for 342 yards and a touchdown. In the regular season, he finished fourth in the NFL in receptions and 13th in receiving yards. There's no question about it, Edelman is one of the best receivers in all of football.

While he is one of the best receivers in the game, he certainly isn't being paid like one. The 30-year-old is entering the final year of a four-year, $17 million deal which has him with a base salary of $3 million and making a total of $5.75 million next year.

How bad is his contract compared to other top receivers? It's horrible. 

According to Overthecap.com, Edelman's contract for this past season was 37th in the entire NFL when it comes to average salary per year. Here is a sampling of receivers who averaged more money than him with their contracts this past year: Allen Hurns, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Torrey Smith, Victor Cruz, Mike Wallace and Jermaine Kearse.

Edelman certainly is due for a raise, and while because of his age he isn't a candidate for a megadeal, he should be rewarded for what he's been able to do in recent years. Given the Patriots have among the most cap space in all of the NFL for 2017 in just over $65 million, now could be the time for an Edelman extension. 

But, is this something the Patriots want to do? Just look at Wes Welker. They clearly didn't want to keep Welker after he showed any sign of a drop off and with Edelman being 30 years old and taking the number of hits that he has, the team has to wonder when he might start to fall off and not want to be responsible for his contract when he does.

The thing with Edelman is he hasn't shown any signs at all of a potential drop off. He's actually gotten better as his career has gone on, shown by his career-best season this past year. It may be worth noting he is a frequent visitor to TB12 Sports Therapy to get worked on by Tom Brady's health/physical guru Alex Guerrero and just look at what has happened to Brady with age.

From this viewpoint, Edelman has at least three solid years in front of him, especially with Brady throwing him passes. And if the Patriots envision him staying with the organization beyond 2017, it would be in their best interest to extend him now before he hits the open market next offseason and a team really overpays for him.

The Kent State product also is a player who enjoys playing for the Patriots and embodies what the organization stands for. He doesn't seem like a player who is going to try and stick it to the Patriots when it come to contract negotiations. If he is presented with a reasonable offer, he likely would take it.

What would be a reasonable offer? Based on some of the recent receiver contracts, Edelman seems worth roughly $7-8 million per year. A three-year, $21-24 million deal seems like a decent starting point, or if the Patriots really were concerned about his durability they could go two years, but make it a higher salary -- two years, $16-18 million. If they did this, it would really add only one more year to his current deal and have him signed through 2018, but allow him to be paid like he should. 

It's well-known the Patriots are very cautious with the way they spend money, but Edelman is a player who even though is in his 30s, should be a player they invest in. He's done everything the organization has asked of him and even has improved with age.

With the amount of cap space the team has, combined with Edelman's current contract situation, it would be wise of the Patriots to look into giving the receiver an extension this offseason.