FOXBORO, Mass. — There’s an alternate universe where Julian Edelman is wearing black and purple, catching passes from Joe Flacco and preparing to face his former team in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs Saturday.
It’s understandable if New England Patriots fans just threw up in their mouths a little.
In this imaginary world, Steve Smith is playing for the Patriots and everything is topsy turvy.
The Patriots reportedly were going to host Smith on a free-agent visit in March. He signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens the day before he was scheduled to arrive in Foxboro, though, and Edelman, who had drawn interest from the Ravens in free agency, signed a four-year, $17 million contract with the Patriots one day later.
Edelman wasn’t interested in talking about those offseason possibilities Wednesday in the Patriots’ locker room, but he had heaps of praise for Smith.
“I’m a huge fan of Steve Smith,” Edelman said. “I love his game. I love his mentality. I’ve looked up to a guy like him ever since I was a little kid. I’ve got nothing but respect for him, and I’m glad he got settled where he’s at, and I’m glad I’m here. That’s all I’ll say on that.”
Edelman, 28, was just 15 years old when 35-year-old Smith began his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers.
The contracts worked out well for both teams. Smith led the Ravens with 79 catches for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns, while Edelman caught 92 passes for 972 yards with four touchdowns. Edelman also rushed the ball 10 times for 94 yards and brought back 25 punts for 299 yards with a touchdown.
The Patriots also added Smith’s former Carolina Panthers teammate, Brandon LaFell, the day after Smith’s scheduled visit. LaFell caught 74 passes for 953 yards and seven touchdowns — all career highs — this season.
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