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New England Patriots

Patriots free agent WR Edelman returning

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Wide receiver Julian Edelman says he’s glad to be returning to the New England Patriots after a surprising breakout season.

Edelman became a free agent last week, but a post on his Twitter account said, “Foxboro is home. Excited to be back.”

The Patriots don’t always make official announcements when they reach contract agreements with their own players. Donald Yee, Edelman’s agent, did not respond to requests for comment.

Edelman also was a free agent before last season and re-signed with the Patriots.

Expected to be behind newcomer Danny Amendola on the wide receiver depth chart last year, Edelman had a career-high 105 catches, six for touchdowns. In his four other seasons with the Patriots since being drafted in 2009, he had 69 receptions. He also had 16 catches and one touchdown in the Patriots two playoff games last season but fell short of the Super Bowl when they lost the AFC championship game to the Denver Broncos, 26-16.

Edelman emerged as Tom Brady’s top target after Wes Welker became a free agent before last season and signed with the Denver Broncos.

He also had another strong season as a punt returner. His average of 12.3 yards per return over the past five seasons is second best in the NFL, behind Devin Hester’s 12.5.

Edelman caught nearly twice as many passes as Amendola, who signed as a free agent when Welker left. Hampered by injuries, Amendola had 54 catches and two touchdowns. The next two wide receivers for the Patriots were rookies – Aaron Dobson with 37 catches and Kenbrell Thompkins with 32.

The return of Edelman provides some continuity for Brady, who will be 37 when he starts his 15th season.

A quarterback at Kent State, Edelman was drafted in the seventh round in 2009 and converted to wide receiver. Slowed by injuries, he played 48 of the 64 regular-season games in his first four years. But he was healthy all last season.

Since free agency began on Tuesday, the Patriots have re-signed tight end Michael Hoomanwanui and added cornerback Brandon Browner as a free agent. They also reached agreement with free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis, a three-time All-Pro, according to his business manager, John Geiger.

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