After playing only six games this season because of a knee injury, Julian Edelman has one more year remaining on his contract with the Patriots if they decide to bring him back for the 2021 season. Winslow Townson/Associated Press Images for Panini

Julian Edelman won’t be returning for the final game of the 2020 season.

That seemed like a foregone conclusion after the wide receiver stopped practicing last week, but on Friday, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick confirmed that Edelman won’t play Sunday against the New York Jets.

Edelman played in six games this season, catching 21 passes for 315 yards. However, he was limited by a knee injury in every practice he participated in, eventually underwent knee surgery and was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 31. At the time, the Patriots were optimistic that he would be able to return. The goal of the procedure was to alleviate Edelman’s knee pain.

Edelman returned to practice on Dec. 16 but was never activated to the 53-man roster. Last week, he missed every practice. The same thing happened this week.

The Patriots’ passing game struggled this season and Edelman’s absence certainly hurt. He’s still fourth on the team in receiving yards despite not playing since the end of October. In the meantime, he’s been trying to pass along his knowledge to the team’s young receivers.

“He was around regularly,” Belichick said. “He did a good job of using his experience to help the guys in areas that he was familiar with and could give them, you know, benefit of his experience and guidance, definitely.”

Now, Edelman enters an uncertain offseason. He’ll turn 35 in May and has one year left on his contract. He is set to count for $6.1 million against salary cap, but the Patriots could save more than $3.4 million by releasing him or trading him.

When asked if he envisions Edelman being back in New England in 2021, Belichick wouldn’t say.

“I think it’s way too early to start talking about next year,” said Belichick.

SOMETIMES, YOU need to read between the lines. Other times, it’s about what a coach or player doesn’t say.

This week, no one has said that this will be Cam Newton’s last game as a member of the Patriots. However, it certainly sounds like that will be the case.

On Thursday evening, Newton was open and honest about his struggles in 2020. He talked about how he wishes he was better for the Patriots and had more time in the team’s offensive system. The biggest question is whether or not Newton, who will be a free agent, will receive any more time after Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

When Newton was asked if he wanted to be a part of the Patriots solution, he wouldn’t say.

“I’m not trying to foreshadow nothing at this particular point in time,” Newton said. “I have work here that’s still not finished and even though we’re not getting what we want, we still can end this season the right way and that’s with a win.”

On Friday, Belichick was asked if he wants to continue working with Newton beyond this season. The Patriots coach also wouldn’t say.

“At this point, just trying to do the best I can to help our team prepare for the Jets and finish the season on a good note,” Belichick said. “These guys have really competed well in practice this week. They’ve tried to get ready like they have all year long. I want to do the best I can to prepare our team to give us every opportunity to perform well on Sunday. So, all your questions about some other year and going forward and all that, we’ll deal with that in due time.”

Newton heads into this weekend with a 6-8 record as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. He has tied a franchise quarterback record with 12 rushing touchdowns this season but has struggled to throw the ball, with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. When the Patriots have had an efficient running game, they’ve been able to move downfield. However, when they have needed to rely on the pass, they couldn’t.

Newton, who sat out most of the 2019 season with the Carolina Panthers because of a foot injury, didn’t sign with the Patriots until July 8, missing the spring offseason team meetings. He also didn’t have any preseason games. Add on COVID-19 restrictions, the Patriots’ limited offensive weapons and the fact that Newton missed two weeks of practice after testing positive for COVID-19, and you see why this was a difficult challenge. On top of that, he replaced Tom Brady.

Newton said he learned a lot about himself this season and enjoyed being coached by Belichick. As for his teammates, he mentioned there are “guys in his locker room that I plan on still having connections with” after this season.

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