Julian Edelman a New York Giant? It could have happened in 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In March 2013, wide receiver Julian Edelman's future with the New England Patriots was uncertain.

Entering his fifth NFL season, he was an unrestricted free agent, and the market for his services wasn’t robust. The Giants, whom he’ll face on Sunday, brought him in for a visit.

How close was Edelman to signing?

“I was pretty close,” he said on sports radio WEEI earlier this month. “It would have been more of an emotional decision.”

At the time, Edelman felt somewhat jilted by not receiving a more aggressive offer from the Patriots, who instead had turned their attention to free agent Danny Amendola. That was the same offseason that Wes Welker departed in free agency.

Had the Giants shown a greater level of aggressiveness with Edelman than the Patriots, maybe history would be rewritten.

“I was very, very impressed with the young man," Giants coach Tom Coughlin recalled when asked about Edelman’s visit with the team. "He was very serious, and I kind of like those kind of guys. He was serious about his business and the game of football and what he was looking for. I certainly regret the fact he’s not in this uniform, but that’s the way it goes.”

Edelman, who saw similarities between Coughlin and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, later explained on ESPN Radio that the biggest issue for him at the time was staying healthy. That was part of the Giants’ consideration in their level of aggressiveness, but Coughlin still saw other positives.

“I think you project how hard he played, the contributions he made not only as a receiver but in the special-teams area, many different categories. You always appreciated the toughness that he brings to the game,” Coughlin said.

Edelman ultimately returned to the Patriots on a modest one-year deal and had a chip on his shoulder that was reflected, among other ways, in his declining multiple interview requests at the time.

Still, Edelman’s return was viewed as a potential coup if he could stay healthy.

He has, and since that time has totaled 254 receptions, which is the third most in the NFL during that span.