Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension is upheld

Julian Edelman appealed his suspension on June 25.
Julian Edelman appealed his suspension on June 25.(File/John Tlumacki/Globe staff)

This story was originally published July 3, 2018.

The Flying Squirrel will remain in a holding pattern.

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension was upheld, an NFL spokesman confirmed Tuesday night.

“Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances,’’ the spokesman said.

“Edelman will be eligible to return to the Patriots’ active roster on Monday, Oct. 1, following the team’s Sept. 30 game against the Miami Dolphins.’’

The Patriots host the Colts three days later on “Thursday Night Football.’’ Edelman will be allowed to participate in all preseason practices and games.


Edelman pleaded his case June 25 as the appeal for his four-game suspension was heard, according to an ESPN report.

In his appeal, Edelman did not argue taking an unknown substance, according to a league source. It was all about paperwork.

Edelman was hit with the ban in early June for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He was the first Patriot suspended under the policy since Rob Ninkovich was hit with a four-game ban to start the 2016 season.

It’s unknown what substance Edelman tested for, though MMQB reported it wasn’t immediately recognized by the league’s testers.

ESPN reported Edelman hired Alex Spiro, a New York attorney who has represented NBA players in several legal matters.

Edelman issued an apology via Instagram in the days after the suspension became public, which, coincidentally, came shortly after the team concluded minicamp.

“I am very sorry — I don’t know what happened. I’ve taken many, many tests obviously over the course of my career, and nothing like this has ever happened,” he wrote. “I apologize to the Kraft family, my coaches, teammates and fans. As this matter is being appealed, I can’t say anymore but no matter what, I will be ready to play and pursue another championship with our team and for Patriots fans around the world.”


This suspension will cost Edelman almost $1 million. He will lose 4/17ths of his $2 million base salary ($470,588), he will miss out on four $31,250 roster bonuses ($125,000), and the Patriots will recoup $392,157 of his $5 million signing bonus, which is mandatory for PED suspensions.

That’s a total of $987,745 that Edelman will forfeit, and he also has $500,000 in performance incentives that will be much more difficult to achieve.

Edelman, 32, who missed all of last season because of a torn ACL, was a regular participant in New England’s offseason program. He was active and engaged during the first two days of minicamp. Edelman arrived a tad late the final practice and spent some time on the exercise bike, so perhaps he learned of the penalty before that session.

Earlier that week, Edelman acknowledged he felt frustration over missing the 2017 season and again during the rehab process, but thanked those who helped him get back on the field so quickly.

“I mean, everyone’s a competitor,’’ he said. “So, sometimes you’re your own worst enemy when you’re trying to [rehab]. I’ve got a lot of guys, training staff [that helped] me out, TB12 all that stuff, to get where I want to be.’’

The weekend before Edelman’s appeal was heard, Tom Brady posted video on Instgram of him throwing passes to his trusted receiver.


Although the suspension was upheld, Edelman is expected to be a full participant in training camp, which opens July 26.

Jim McBride can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride. Ben Volin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin