Life in the NFL without Rob Gronkowski will be somewhat of a new experience for Julian Edelman.

After breaking into the league in 2009, Edelman became New England Patriots teammates with Gronkowski the following year. The two accomplished quite a bit over their nine seasons together, including three Super Bowl championships.

Edelman and the Patriots will miss Gronkowski for more reasons than one. While most will focus on the void Gronk’s retirement left on the Patriots tight end depth chart, his presence in New England’s locker room will be impossible to replace as well.

“He’s definitely going to be missed. Not just his athletic ability and what he does on the field, how he is in the locker room,” Edelman said Tuesday on WFAN’s “Boomer and Gio.” “I’ve played nine years with the guy, and to see him every day and how he was as a professional — he never really had a bad day. And when you play a long time with someone, you know them in and out. He’s such a good human being. Great dude to be around, like a big ‘ol teddy bear. Those are the things you’re going to miss the most. You go into Week 13 or 12, it’s been a grind, you’re banged up. We just had a long flight, we have a short week and you go into the office, you know, and sometimes it’s not easy to have a great attitude. You look at Gronk and Gronk’s over there in his locker, naked, smiling like, ‘Hey, what’s up, dude?’ That’s just Gronk, and those are the things you’re going to miss and obviously you’re going to miss his attributes.”

The reigning Super Bowl champions will continue to prepare for life after Gronkowski, but there’s always a chance they reunite with the five-time Pro Bowl selection in the not-so-distant future. Some Patriots sources reportedly aren’t buying Gronk’s retirement, and one has to imagine the team wouldn’t reject a midseason return if he has a change of heart.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images