Watson focused two groups; Gronk wasn’t issue

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran tight finish Benjamin Watson mentioned Thursday that he started having second ideas about his retirement a couple of month in the past, however he was solely prepared to return for a 16th season with a number of groups.

That listing was headlined by the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.

Watson signed a one-year, $Three million take care of the Patriots on Could 9, and he’s now one of many prime choices to probably assist fill the void created by Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.

Watson, 38, referred to as Gronkowski a “fabulous participant” whom he has watched for years, however mentioned Gronkowski’s retirement wasn’t a catalyst for him to alter his thoughts. Even with the sting of not taking part in within the Saints’ crushing loss to the Los Angeles Rams within the NFC Championship Recreation after he had been identified with appendicitis, Watson had been shifting ahead in retirement.

“I began trying into different alternatives — broadcasting, participant growth. I used to be actively on the lookout for different choices, and had a number of choices as nicely,” Watson mentioned after taking part within the Patriots’ voluntary organized staff exercise Thursday. “Then as time handed — two months, three months — I began pondering, ‘Possibly I may do it yet another time. Let’s have a look at what’s on the market.’

“… It was extra of a household resolution. My spouse [Kirsten] and I speaking about what that might appear like for our household, and simply sort of weighing the professionals and cons.”

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As for why the Saints and Patriots had been atop his listing, Watson mentioned the reply was pretty simple.

“We dwell in New Orleans now, clearly I simply performed there final 12 months, and we love that group there,” Watson mentioned. “The children have plenty of pals in class. Our church. Simply the town itself, we actually love the individuals there.

“And clearly [New England], it is a spot the place we began [as a first-round draft pick in 2004]. Once I got here right here, I used to be a rookie and wasn’t married. Now we’ve seven youngsters and have been married 13 years. So this place is all the time particular to us as nicely. … Having to uproot and go to a spot that was new would have been powerful for us.”

The 6-foot-Three, 251-pound Watson totaled 35 receptions for 400 yards and two touchdowns final season. Watson mentioned he has all the time stored in contact with quarterback Tom Brady, joking that his texts are often to congratulate Brady on one other Tremendous Bowl win, whereas Brady’s texts are to congratulate him on one other new child.

Watson has performed for the Patriots (2004-09), Cleveland Browns (2010-12), Saints (2013-15, 2018) and Baltimore Ravens (2016-17).

“There have been two golf equipment, once I was retired, the place I mentioned, ‘If I had been to play once more, I would like to go someplace I have been earlier than or keep in New Orleans,'” he mentioned. “Shifting right here as a rookie at 22 years outdated, and now coming again with a complete tribe, that is one thing that is going to be enjoyable for all of us.”

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