FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Julian Edelman grew up less than 30 miles from San Francisco. So visiting the 49ers as a free agent was “very surreal.”
As a high school student, he watched them at training camp. As a pro, he chose to stay at his current home.
Two days after re-signing with the New England Patriots, Edelman said Thursday, “I ultimately felt that the best fit for me and my skill set and my career was back in Boston. (San Francisco) was my home growing up, but, like I keep on saying, Foxborough is home. It’s all I know really.”
Edelman has spent five NFL seasons with the Patriots since they drafted him in the seventh round as a quarterback out of Kent State and converted him to wide receiver. But he caught only 69 passes in his first four years.
Then, with Wes Welker leaving for the Denver Broncos, Edelman had a breakout season with 105 receptions, fourth most in the NFL. With him and Danny Amendola returning, Tom Brady has some stability in his receiving corps. The Patriots added former Carolina wide receiver Brandon LaFell, but still lack a deep threat.
Brady “let it be known that he would love to have me back and part of the team,” Edelman said in a conference call, “but Tom’s also a good friend of mine, one of the guys that’s helped me develop into a professional in this league. He also told me that I would have to take care of myself and my family. He just kind of mentored me through the process.
“The most difficult time of this process is planning on the worst, and that’s moving on and going to another place. It’s very tough, especially when you’ve been in a place for five years and you’ve developed a love for the area.”
Still, visiting the 49ers “was like a little dream,” Edelman said. “It was very surreal. I remember going in high school and going to the training camps and seeing the players. … I was a big (Jim) Harbaugh fan when he was (coach) at Stanford.”
But Edelman re-signed with the Patriots, reportedly for $17 million over four years.
“It’s good to have a little security,” he said, “a little security on how many years I’ll be here. I’ve never really been in that situation. I’ve always felt like if I had a bad practice, I could potentially get cut the next day.”
“There’s a reality that I could have played somewhere else,” Edelman said. “You didn’t know what direction your life was going to go, so it’s definitely great to have the process over.”