FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots released tight end Ben Watson on Monday.
Watson returned to the team last week after serving his four-game suspension for an earlier violation of the league’s PEDs policy. He was granted a roster exemption upon his arrival and worked with the team during the week before its 33-7 win at Washington on Sunday. The exemption expired at 4 p.m. Monday, which triggered his release.
Watson was present in the Patriots’ locker room Monday prior to the 4 p.m. deadline, but didn’t speak to the media. Instead, he took to Twitter, where he confirmed his release and expressed his disappointment.
“The God of victory is also God in failure,” Watson tweeted. “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.”
In an appearance on WEEI’s ‘OMF’ show, Bill Belichick explained the decision to release Watson in simple terms.
“Just don’t have a roster spot,” Belichick said. “We only have so many roster spots, so if we put somebody on, we have to put somebody off. Right now, there wasn’t a roster spot. ...
“We didn’t feel like there was somebody that we could create a roster spot with. Everybody came out of the game healthy. Have a decent team, so I think that’s where we’re at.”
The Pats would have had to cut a player on their active roster to make room for Watson. His release will instead create almost $2 million in cap space, effectively doubling the team’s current cap room. It could indicate that the Patriots are looking to position themselves for a move ahead of the league’s Oct. 29 trade deadline.
Even though he didn’t see the field in his second stint with the Patriots, his impact was surely felt around the locker room.
“Ben is just overall a great person just to be around,” said Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty. “Football aside, a guy who’s strong in his faith, mature, a father of seven, so a lot to learn from him in that standpoint. I got a chance to work out with him with our break from the OTAs going into training camp, so just a really good dude to be around and learn from a football standpoint, but also just from a life standpoint.”
The 38-year-old signed with the Patriots in early May. Weeks later, news broke that Watson would be suspended for the first four games of the season, at which point Watson claimed he’d tested positive for testosterone in late March during his brief retirement. He played sparingly in the preseason before suffering a concussion against Carolina two weeks before the regular season.
The Pats drafted Watson into the league in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He played six seasons in New England before stints with the Browns, Ravens and Saints.
The Patriots’ remaining tight ends are Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo, who have combined for seven catches over the team’s first five games.