Last week, the New England Patriots’ tight end position saw more depth come its way: Benjamin Watson saw his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy come to an end. As is standard procedure with players coming back from suspension, however, he did not have to be activated right away as New England was granted a one-week roster exemption for the veteran.
The Patriots had until Monday, 4:00pm ET to reactivate Watson to their 53-man roster or else he would enter free agency — and it looks like they opted for the second path: as first reported by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the team has not added him to their active roster before the deadline, effectively ending the 38-year-old’s tenure with the team after only five months and zero in-game appearances during the regular season.
The move means three things now for New England:
1.) The club is apparently happy with a tight end depth chart consisting of Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo.
2.) No player will have to be released off the 53-man roster.
3.) The Patriots save $1.97 million in salary cap space, according to Miguel Benzan.
Watson, who came back from retirement in May to rejoin the club that drafted him in the first round back in 2004, will now hit the open market. Considering his age and the fact that he already stepped away from the game once, it would not be a surprise if he calls it a career for good this time around.
[UPDATE 10/07/2019, 4:09pm ET] Watson took to social media shortly after the activation deadline to confirm that the Patriots have indeed parted ways with him:
The God of victory is also God in failure. I gave my all, but it was not enough to earn a spot on the Patriots roster. I’m beyond disappointed but even more upset for my family who has supported me with all the love a husband and father could ask for. They are my heroes. Rom 8:28