Julian Edelman has apparently been working with newly drafted wide receiver N’Keal Harry, potentially paying dividends for the Patriots long term.
Don’t expect Julian Edelman to give the cold shoulder to his potential replacement, N’Keal Harry.
According to Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, Edelman has taken it upon himself to work with newly drafted wide receiver N’Keal Harry, giving him immediate feedback on his reps and teaching him the finer points of routes.
This will likely lead to a more effective Harry this season since he is getting instruction in route running from one of the savviest route runners in the league. But this could have a much more long-lasting effect as well.
It seems likely that Edelman will play through the end of the contract extension he just received and then retire at the age of 35. That would mean he has 3 more seasons to be the No. 1 target in the Patriots pass offense. He could simply go about his business and work to remain the best receiver on the team, keeping his distance from the younger players.
After all, many established receivers would be offended by their the team drafting a wide receiver in the first round, as the Patriots did with Harry. Many would try to show up the rookie and put him in his place – or simply ignore him. But Edelman has apparently come to understand the value of investing in the future and desires to pass on some of what he has learned.
Edelman spoke with Reiss about how running back Fred Taylor, near the end of his career when Edelman was a rookie, took Edelman under his wing. He encouraged Edelman to not get down on himself, and to take the difficult coaching of Belichick as a compliment – since it meant Belichick saw something in him.
This seems to be the seed planted in Edelman that is leading him not to try to knock Harry down, but to help him grow. And if Harry learns even a fraction of what Edelman knows about getting open and running routes, that should pay long-term dividends for the Patriots. It could potentially even extend their dynasty, if Harry becomes a dominant NFL receiver.
This willingness to nurture another player at the same position who could potentially take your job is rare, but it is incredibly powerful. It was Alex Smith’s selfless mentoring of Patrick Mahomes that played a huge part in his dominant 2018 season. And it was apparently Tom Brady’s unwillingness to mentor Jimmy Garoppolo that played a role in the Patriots deciding to trade Jimmy G.
That Edelman sees the value in passing his knowledge down to the next generation can only be a positive for the Patriots moving forward.