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An MRI on Saturday revealed that Edelman indeed suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during Friday's preseason win over the Lions, according to multiple reports. Edelman will miss the entire 2017 campaign.
As NFL.com notes, the 32-year-old receiver has been Tom Brady's most reliable target for years. Edelman has earned more than nine targets per game over the last four seasons and has averaged more than 11 yards per catch the past five years. He is coming off a career-high 1,106-yard 2016 season. Edelman signed a two-year, $11 million contract with $7 million guaranteed before this offseason.
This is obviously a blow for the Patriot -- and for fantasy owners who have already drafted Edelman.
But New England's offense is as well-equipped as any in the league when it comes to handling an individual loss (Rob Gronkowski and Brady aside).
"The plug-and-play nature of the Patriots' attack should facilitate an easy transition in the slot from Edelman to Danny Amendola or one of New England's pass-catching running backs (James, White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are all capable receivers)," NFL.com opined.
Beyond that, Chris Hogan, new acquisition Brandin Cooks and the Patriots' tight ends should be the greatest beneficiaries of Edelman's absence. Hogan and Cooks are suddenly New England's go-to receivers and will be expected to replace, in tandem, Edelman's nearly 100 receptions from last season. Gronkowski and former Colts tight end Dwayne Allen should see increased targets on third-down conversions.