Within the next six weeks, Julian Edelman likely will receive a signing bonus worth more money than he’s earned in his first five seasons with the Patriots combined. The wide receiver was nothing if not timely with his most productive season, as he caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns, and gave Tom Brady the consistency he so desperately coveted after an offseason personnel overhaul and injuries yielded frequent lineup changes. As such, Edelman has a significant opportunity to cash in after earning roughly $3 million during his first five seasons. “That’s great and all, but it’s unfortunate that it’s so soon after the game we just lost,” Edelman told the Herald yesterday in Times Square. “It hasn’t really hit me yet that it could happen. That’s what I have my agents for. They handle all that stuff. I just worry about staying in shape, working to get better, so I’ll let them handle that. I’ll handle trying to get better and do what I have to do to maintain a high level of football.” Edelman totaled 69 receptions for 714 yards and four touchdowns in his previous four seasons, when he also missed 16 games due to injuries, so one prolific season isn’t guaranteed to bring a massive payday. Still, Edelman has immersed himself on the league’s radar much more now than an offseason ago when the Patriots offered little more than the minimum and were even willing to watch him take a two-day visit to the Giants. The competition for his services will obviously increase. So, Edelman has to be satisfied with his statistical boom, though he was still bummed about the AFC Championship loss to the Broncos, even saying it “sucks” to walk through Radio Row while gesturing toward a gigantic poster of Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey. “It’s always good to have production, but ultimately, we’re not playing in the last game,” Edelman said. “That’s why I play the game is to win the Super Bowl. It’s unfortunate that I have to be here talking to all these people and not get to play in this game, so you know how that goes.” Edelman’s next challenge, of course, comes in free agency. The Patriots have exclusive signing power until March 11, and when asked if he’d like to return to the Pats, Edelman responded, “Who doesn’t? It’s a great franchise.” Discussions have yet to begin, though that’s typical for this time of year. Bill Belichick even said last week it takes 4-8 weeks to determine an in-house free agent’s value as it relates to finances, competing free agents and the progressing system.