Julian Edelman is retired, but he hasn't exactly resigned himself to a life of shuffleboard and cribbage.
The ex-New England Patriots wide receiver followed his former team very closely this season as an analyst for the Paramount+ show "Inside the NFL." And after watching the Patriots' season end with a 47-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card Round, Edelman has plenty of thoughts about the state of the franchise.
Edelman joined Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast in an exclusive interview to share some of those thoughts, including his take on the next step in Mac Jones' development, how much Joe Judge will (or won't) be involved in the Patriots' offense, and who on the team can fill Edelman's old role as New England's go-to wideout.
Here are some highlights from Edelman's chat with Curran, in which he also discusses Tom Brady's retirement (and potential comeback):
On Mac Jones' development
"I'm excited for the Patriots to see what they can do in these next three to six years with this new generation because of Mac Jones," Edelman said.
"I think he needs to physically get stronger. I think he hit a wall during this year. You could see it. And that's rightfully so because the people who have never played in a rookie year, what they don't understand is that when you're training for a combine, when you're training for your pro day, you're not training football. You're training for your testing.
"You're like, 'I've got to do 20 outside throws here.' So, the training is completely different."
Edelman believes Jones can avoid hitting that same wall in his second NFL season by focusing on a football-specific training program this offseason. And he has high hopes for the 23-year-old, who led all rookie QBs with 3,801 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes alongside 13 interceptions.
" ... I'm excited with Mac Jones because of how he digested the offense. You could see him open up the playbook a little more here and there."
On the Patriots' offensive staffing situation
"(Jones) is missing Josh (McDaniels)," Edelman said. "That's going to be huge. But the Patriots always find a way. If Billy O'Brien comes back, who knows who comes back."
Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien has been reported as a potential replacement for Josh McDaniels after the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator took the Las Vegas Raiders' head coach job.
New England just hired ex-New York Giants head coach Joe Judge as an offensive assistant, but Edelman believes Judge won't be at the top of the pecking order on offense next season.
"I don't know if Joe Judge is calling plays," Edelman said. "But they'll figure something out. I don't ever bet against Bill Belichick.
"I have a lot of faith in his philosophy on how to build a team, so they'll get some more pieces. It's never easy, but as long as you have a quarterback -- that's the biggest part. You (live) and die by a quarterback in this league. That's how it goes. That's just how it is."
On who can replace his own role in the Patriots' offense
"Jakobi Meyers can be in that role," Edelman said. "He's played very well. He knows how to play that role.
"You can see him in the run game, he goes in and digs out safeties like we did. He can get open on third down. He had a very good year -- let's not take that away from him."