- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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With free-agent receiver Julian Edelman visiting the Giants tonight and Thursday, and the possibility of a return to the Patriots still in the cards, let's compare the two situations from Edelman's perspective.
As noted by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com, the Giants have "Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy, but can use another receiver. Edelman would give the Giants an experienced returner on punts and kickoffs and a player who can excel in the slot and provide insurance if anything were to happen with [Victor] Cruz, who is a restricted free agent."
Meanwhile, the Patriots have Danny Amendola, Donald Jones, Michael Jenkins, Matthew Slater, Kamar Aiken, Andre Holmes and Jeremy Ebert at receiver. There is a widespread expectation that the Patriots will add to the position, either in free agency or the draft, and that's why the door hasn't been closed on Edelman's return.
Edelman would also be the Patriots' top punt returner if he came back to the team (15.5-yard average in 2012), as he's proven to be one of the NFL's most dynamic threats in that area. If not, Leon Washington (8.7 average in 2012) could get the nod.
With both teams, Edelman wouldn't project as the top slot receiver -- Cruz locks down that spot in New York, and Amendola has been tapped to fill the void created by Wes Welker's departure. The only way that could change is if Cruz doesn't sign as a restricted free agent (similar to Patriots offensive lineman Logan Mankins in 2010), but it would be risky for Edelman to rely on something like that.
So if Edelman is ultimately deciding between the Giants and Patriots, it would likely come down to which team he feels offers the best opportunity as an outside receiver within its scheme. The Patriots probably have the slight edge if that's the case, as they often played Edelman outside in 2012, although one shouldn't discount a potential strong Giants sales pitch.
As always, money also figures to be a consideration.
Writes Youngmisuk, "The Patriots might be able to offer more than the Giants, who have been looking to sign productive free agents for minimum-type deals."