Unless Julian Edelman pulls a Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots will remain his only NFL team. But that nearly changed several times during (and after) his playing career.
The most recent draw for Edelman was the opportunity to reunite with Tom Brady after the quarterback signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 2020.
In an appearance on ESPN2's "ManningCast" on Monday night during the Bucs' win over the New York Giants, Edelman revealed that Brady actually reached out to him the day he signed with the Bucs to pitch his wide receiver on joining him in Tampa Bay.
"(Tom) hit me up the first day he signed there, like, 'You wanna come down?'" Edelman told co-hosts Peyton and Eli Manning. "I was like, 'Absolutely not.'"
Edelman's loyalty to New England came at a cost: He played just six games in 2020 with Cam Newton as his quarterback before going on injured reserve with a knee injury, while Brady and Gronk rolled to a Super Bowl title with the Bucs.
That wasn't the only time Edelman's loyalty was tested, though. The retired wide receiver explained how the New York Giants recruited him prior to the 2013 season, to the point where Edelman even visited the team as an unrestricted free agent that March.
"It was pretty close," Edelman told the Mannings of joining the Giants. "I went and visited down there in Jersey and met with (Tom) Coughlin and had nothing but respect for the organization.
".. But I looked at my choices of going back to the Pats ... (and) Peyton, thank you for taking (Wes) Welker off our hands ... and the rest is history. You guys are saying, 'Once a Giant, always a Giant.' Well, 'Almost a Giant, always a Patriot.'"
Edelman had reason to seek greener pastures: He caught just 21 passes in 2012 with Welker ahead of him on the depth chart and didn't receive much of an offer from New England in free agency.
But Edelman stuck around when Welker signed with Manning's Denver Broncos, and he clearly made the right decision: Edelman erupted for 1,056 receiving yards on 105 receptions in 2013 and went on to win three Super Bowls with the Patriots as one of the best wide receivers in franchise history.
Brady also may have disowned Edelman if he joined the team that beat New England in two Super Bowls, so for the sake of their friendship, we're glad Edelman stayed put.