The New England Patriots keep finding ways to get better. After winning Super Bowl 51 and adding numerous upgrades at various positions during the offseason, the Patriots got better from within on Thursday, when news broke of an extension agreement with star wide receiver, Julian Edelman.

New England had been working to lock up Edelman, 31, who has proven to be one of the best slot wide receivers in the NFL. The two sides finally hammered out a long-term contract extension, which per ESPN‘s Adam Schefter will keep him with the team through the 2019 NFL season:

Rich Get Richer

The Pats stormed back from a 28-3 hole to win their fifth NFL title last season, so no matter what they do going into 2017, they’ll feel like they’re ahead of the pack. That’s easier to say after the team sprung a big trade to land former New Orleans Saints speedster Brandin Cooks, while handing Edelman an extension guarantees Tom Brady will have a loaded passing attack for the next few years.

Edelman merely beefs up a huge strength for New England, as their wide receiving corps has gotten so loaded that solid veteran slot man Danny Amendola is on the roster bubble heading into training camp. Regardless of what happens with Amendola, the Pats remain stacked at wide receiver and keeping one of the best in the business at working the slot makes sure they won’t experience a dip at the position.

New England rewards players that live up to the hype and can return solid value and Edelman has been doing that for years. The converted Kent State quarterback racked up 98 receptions in a full 16-game season in 2016 and has topped 92+ receptions three different times since being drafted in 2009. Edelman will undoubtedly eye a fourth run at 92+ catches and will also hope to stay healthy after missing nine total games between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Team to Beat?

New England extending Julian Edelman is just par for the course for what looks to be the best team in the NFL going into 2017. The Patriots went 14-2 and won Super Bowl 51 last year and nothing they’ve done since then suggests they can’t do something similar in 2017. Vegas certainly seems to agree, as the Pats enter the new season with the best chance (+375 odds at Bovada) to win it all again.

Locking up Edelman doesn’t add anything extra to New England’s 2017 Super Bowl hopes, but it does take away the potential distraction of contract talks. It also helps keep the Patriots in the conversation for title talks beyond this year. For Edelman, it’s appreciation for a job well done and security as he hopes to close out his playing career with the only franchise he’s ever known.

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