- Covered Patriots since 1997
- Joined ESPN in 2009
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson is putting his retirement on hold, and he’s coming home to do it. The New England Patriots intend to sign the 38-year-old Watson — one of their first-round draft choices in 2004 — to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Watson visited the Patriots on Thursday and becomes part of a group that will attempt to fill the sizable void created by Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.
Watson immediately becomes the team’s most experienced tight end, followed by Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and Andrew Beck.
Watson had hinted at his possible return on Instagram, noting that the birth of his twins on April 24 this year came on the same day he was drafted by the Patriots. He posted side-by-side pictures — one of him being introduced as a Patriots top pick, and one of him holding his twins.
In December, Watson had announced his retirement.
“I knew coming into this year that it probably would be the last year. And I think our approach was as a family that we were fortunate to come and play for another year, but you kind of know,” said Watson, who spent six years with the Patriots, three with the Cleveland Browns, three with the New Orleans Saints and two with the Baltimore Ravens before rejoining the Saints in the 2018 offseason. “It’s been great to be a part of this team and have this sort of winning at this point of my career. But the injuries add up, the body struggles more and more. And it becomes evident that it’s time.
“It’s always a very hard thing, but my mentality this year has definitely been to perform to the best of my ability and fight through different things.”
But the way Watson’s 2018 season ended might have altered his mindset. He had been diagnosed with appendicitis, which led to him missing the Saints’ crushing loss in the NFC Championship Game.