If Julian Edelman ever played in the CFL, he would be considered a national.
Edelman had 10 catches for 141 yards in February’s Super Bowl, earning the MVP award as the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.
The three-time Super Bowl champion would be a CFL free agent along with a group of other Canadian players who were on a new list of non-imports after the old collective bargaining agreement — ratified in June 2014 — changed the rules on the classification of nationals. That allowed some players who were not considered a national under the previous CBA to become one as of 2014.
Edelman’s mom Andrea was born in Kitchener, qualifying him as a national. (Side note: while at Kent State University playing quarterback, Edelman was on the B.C. Lions’ neg list.)
Afterwards, the competition committee agreed to allow the new list of nationals playing in the NFL and others who had graduated from their NCAA programs in the last half decade to enter the CFL as free agents only. Never would they have to go through the draft or be eligible for assignment to a negotiation list.
Austin Collie, who played one season in B.C., benefitted from that ruling as did ratio-breaking defensive end Jamaal Westerman, signing with Winnipeg in 2015 becoming an dangerous pass rusher when healthy.
Retired offensive lineman John Urschel would’ve been a free agent if he ever wanted to play in the CFL, as would: Nate Burleson, a retired 11-year NFL receiver; defensive lineman Colin Cole; retired six-year NFL offensive lineman Orlando Franklin; San Francisco 49ers long snapper Kyle Nelson, son of Redblacks’ defensive coordinator Mark Nelson; and former Detroit Lion and New York Giants’ receiver T.J. Jones, born in Winnipeg.
Those latter two players are the likeliest candidates to transition to the CFL from the group. Nelson seems to be carving out a strong career as a long snapper, while Jones is a 2014 sixth-round pick. The six-foot, 190-pounder has played in 42 games making 64 receptions for 814 yards and four touchdowns while adding 14 kick returns for 292 yards and 21 punt returns for 193 yards. Jones is quick and speedy (4.48 40-yard time), traits that could translate well to the CFL.
Jones played four seasons at the University of Notre Dame where he posted 181 catches for 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns in 51 games. His best year came as a senior in 2013, grabbing 70 passes for 1,108 yards and nine touchdowns. That Irish team made the BCS National Championship game, but lost 42-14 to the University of Alabama. Jones had six receptions for 90 yards in the contest.
The former golden domer was released by the Giants as the team pared down their roster to 53 plays. Jones caught 12 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the pre-season with New York. It was a surprise to some that Jones was cut and currently remains a free agent. Due to his veteran status, Jones is not eligible for a practice roster spot with any NFL team.
Through six seasons, Jones has made over $3.8 million. Far less than Edelman who has earned more than $26 million in the NFL. Don’t expect the former Kent State University quarterback to ever play a down in the CFL. But Jones could and he appears to have the makings of a ratio-changer.