Just as the NFL Free Agency period is opening up, veteran tight end Benjamin Watson has announced his retirement. In his social media post, the 39-year-old paid homage to all four franchises (Patriots, Saints, Browns, Ravens) he played for during his 16 seasons in the league.
Watson finished his career in 2019 with the same team that drafted him, having come out of his first retirement to alleviate the New England Patriots’ injury woes at tight end. Watson appeared in 10 games, starting eight, and finished the season with 17 receptions for 173 yards.
New England selected Watson in the first round, No. 32 overall, of the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia. Watson had played his freshman season at Duke before transferring to Georgia where he had 65 catches for 852 yards and six touchdowns.
In his first stint with the Patriots, Watson appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004. Watson spent six seasons in New England, catching 167 passes for 2,102 yards and 20 touchdowns, before signing with Cleveland in 2010.
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In his first season in Cleveland, Watson started all 16 games for the first time in his career as he hauled in 68 receptions for 763 yards and three touchdowns. Watson led the Browns in receptions, receiving yards, and tied for most receiving touchdowns.
Watson saw a sudden decrease in his production when he first signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2013, playing a secondary role behind the established Jimmy Graham, until Graham’s departure in 2015, when Watson recorded a career-high 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns. Watson was recognized as a Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award finalist and voted as a Pro Bowl alternate.
Watson missed the entire 2016 season due to a torn Achilles tendon. The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder came back to catch 61 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games with Baltimore in 2017.
Watson finished his career with 547 receptions for 6058 yards and 44 touchdowns.
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