FOXBORO - Home may be where the heart is, but for Julian Edelman, it's also where the money was.
That's one of the reasons why the Patriots' sixth-year wide receiver enjoyed a visit to his hometown San Francisco 49ers during free agency, but opted to remain on the other coast with the New England Patriots, the only team for which he's played in the NFL.
"It's good to have a little security and knowing that a team believes in you enough to pay you that kind of stuff," Edelman said Thursday, referring to the four-year, $19 million contract he recently signed. "A little security on how many years I'll be here, I've never really been in that situation. I've always felt like if I had a bad practice, I could potentially get cut the next day. Ultimately it's good to be back with this franchise and it's a surreal moment."
Edelman chatted with New England reporters via conference call, saying that even though he's a Californian by birth, he considered himself a tried-and-true New Englander now.
"I know Boston better than I know San Francisco," he said. "I go to the Cape more than I go to Lake Tahoe. I mean, I guess I am a New Englander when it comes down to it. It's pretty crazy to think but if you look at it close, I don't know the city of San Francisco that well but I grew up 30 miles south. I didn't go to the city that often as an adult. Now in Boston, I'm there three times a week. I guess I would say I'm a New Englander."
Still, the former Kent State quarterback said it was somewhat of an honor to have his hometown interested in bidding for his services.
"That was a like a little dream right there," Edelman said. "I'm not going to lie, it was very surreal. I remember going in high school and going to the training camps and seeing the players and then I got to be behind the scenes and meet with the coaches. I was a big (Jim) Harbaugh fan when he was at Stanford and to get to meet him there and all their coaches.
"You know they've been in the NFC Championship the last three years and it's a fine organization that's only going to get better," he added, "but I ultimately felt that the best fit for me and my skill set and my career was back in Boston. That was my home growing up but like I keep on saying, Foxboro is home. It's all I know, really."
Edelman caught a career-best 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns last year. He said he spent a lot of time pondering his options before deciding to accept the Patriots' offer (including $8 million in guaranteed money) and end his foray into free agency.
"The most difficult time of this process is planning on the worst, and that's moving on and going to another place," he said. "It's very tough, especially when you've been in a place for five years and you've developed a love for the area.
"You have teammates, coaches that you've been through battles with, you have fans that are just outrageously great," he continued. "It's just a great area to play football in, but there's a reality that I could have played somewhere else. You didn't know what direction your life was going to go, so it's definitely great to have the process over and I'm looking forward to getting started and doing this right now."
Edelman worked out briefly on the Left Coast with another Bay Area-native Patriot, quarterback Tom Brady, and needless to say, there were thoughts exchanged about the process and its possible outcome.
"TB let it be known that he would love to have me back and part of the team," Edelman said. "But Tom's also a good friend of mine, one of the guys that's helped me develop into a professional in this league. He also told me that I would have to take care of myself and my family. He just kind of mentored me through the process.
"It was definitely a very tough decision that you had to deal with," he said, "but TB was right there behind me if I would have left or if I would have stayed. I couldn't leave the guy, he's my dog."
Edelman also gave his stamp of approval to the Patriots' other free-agency moves on both sides of the ball.
"I have full trust in what those guys do and who they bring in because it's proven that it works," he said. "You obviously know (cornerback Darrelle) Revis, how great of a player he is. Then (cornerback Brandon) Browner, how he's had a lot of success over there on the West Coast. (Brandon) LaFell, having another receiver to have for Tommy ... so I mean, all these guys, it's pretty good to have that.
"It's just going to make camp and OTAs a lot more competitive," he said. "It's going to make us better."