After the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots knew they had a giant hole to fill at tight end.
While they neglected to focus on the position in the draft, the team did sign veteran Austin Seferian-Jenkins to help fill the void left by Gronk’s departure.
Now it appears that the Patriots could solidify the tight end depth chart by dipping into their past and luring a member of their 2004 Super Bowl-winning team out of retirement.
On Thursday, Benjamin Watson, who played with the New Orleans Saints last year in what he said would be his final season, is visiting the team that drafted him in the first round 15 years ago, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
Schefter said the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers are also on Watson’s radar.
Former Saints’ TE Benjamin Watson, who had intended to retire, is in New England today visiting with the Patriots, per source. Watson also is considering the Chiefs, Bills and 49ers. His retirement didn’t last long.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2019
In late December, the 38-year-old Watson announced his intention to retire after the Saints’ season ended.
But both his season and the Saints’ ended sooner than he would have liked. Watson was hospitalized with appendicitis the week of the NFC championship game, and New Orleans lost to the Los Angeles Rams.
The fact that he wasn’t able to suit up in that game with the controversial no-call on pass interference appears to have left a bad taste in his mouth.
In April, Schefter said the Watson family was welcoming twins shortly, but after their arrival, he would then contemplate returning for another season to “the right situation.”
Former Saints’ TE Benjamin Watson, who intended to retire after last season, is now considering a return to the NFL, according to sources. Watson is currently focused on welcoming twins next week. But after their arrival, he may be open to coming back to the right situation.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 20, 2019
Watson announced twins Asher and Levi were born April 24, and now it appears that New England might be the “right situation” he’s looking for.
Turning 39 in December, Watson is already the second-oldest tight end in NFL history to catch a touchdown pass as he had two last season. He only trails Antonio Gates, who is just a couple of months older than Watson.
The last pick of the first round in 2004, Watson was part of the first Patriots dynasty and won a ring as a rookie.
He played six seasons with the team and ranks fourth all-time in franchise history in receiving touchdowns for a tight end.
Watson left the Patriots in 2010 just one month before the team drafted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Watson then spent three years with the Cleveland Browns, three years in his first stint with the Saints and two years with the Baltimore Ravens before rejoining New Orleans last season.
Apart from Seferian-Jenkins, the Patriots’ depth chart at tight end includes Stephen Anderson, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and Andrew Beck.
Those four players have combined for three receiving touchdowns in their careers, while Watson has 44 touchdowns.
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