Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has been suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, reports ESPN and NFL Network. The suspension is already under appeal.
Edelman, 32, missed the 2017 season after suffering a major knee injury in August. The year before he was the Patriots’ leading receiver during the regular season with 98 catches for 1,106 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 85 yards in New England’s 34-28 comeback victory over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
The Patriots are expecting Edelman to return to a major role after recovering from injury. Other wide receivers on the depth chart include Jordan Matthews, Chris Hogan, Cordarelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Mitchell. His absence for the first four games of the season would put pressure on Tom Brady and the passing game to find alternative targets in the wideout corps.
The 2018 season will be Edelman’s ninth with the team since being picked in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Kent State. He’s recorded 425 catches for 4,540 yards and 24 touchdowns in 103 games.