Edelman announced his retirement in a video posted on social media Monday.
"It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family," Edelman said. "And I'm honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. ... It's been the best 12 years of my life."
Monday's NFL transaction wire showed that New England terminated Edelman's contract. According to ESPN, the roster move is just a technicality as part of his retirement.
By having his contract terminated with a failed physical designation, Edelman now becomes eligible for the injury protection benefit, per the collective bargaining agreement. He can earn up to $2 million through that benefit.
Edelman, who was named MVP of Super Bowl LIII in 2019, was limited to six games last season due to a chronic knee injury. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and finished second in league history with 118 postseason catches, behind only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (151).
The 34-year-old Edelman ranks second in Patriots history with 620 receptions, trailing only Wes Welker (672). He also is fourth on the franchise's career receiving yards list with 6,822.
"Nothing in my career has ever come easy and no surprise, this isn't going to be easy either," Edelman said. "I've always said, 'I'll go until the wheels come off.' And they finally have fallen off. Due to an injury last year, I'll be making my official announcement of my retirement from football."
The Patriots selected Edelman in the seventh round of the 2009 draft out of Kent State University. In 137 career games, he notched 36 receiving touchdowns and added 413 rushing yards.