When Troy Brown was watching the New England Patriots practice in the summer of 2009, he couldn’t help but gush over an unfamiliar rookie receiver.

Julian Edelman, a seventh-round pick that year, was causing mayhem all over the field as a punt returner and backup slot receiver. It seemed as though Tom Brady was controlling him with a joystick.

So Brown walked over to Bill Belichick and opined that the Patriots have “the next Wes Welker” on the roster.

Belichick interjected, “No way, he’s the next you.”

Somehow, Edelman surpassed those expectations during an iconic 12-year tenure with the Patriots. He was the franchise’s most accomplished playoff receiver, offering shades of Brown in the second phase of the dynasty.

That run came to a close Monday when the 34-year-old announced his retirement due to a knee injury that became too cumbersome to overcome. The Patriots officially released Edelman with a failed physical designation, merely a procedural move to generate $3.4 million in cap space.

Edelman has had a chronic knee issue for quite some time. Even now, five and a half months since midseason surgery, it had been viewed as a real challenge for Edelman to be able to get through the upcoming season. As that reality continued to set in, Edelman knew he couldn’t go any longer.