Veteran tight end Benjamin Watson announced his retirement just as the NFL tampering period opened on Monday. In a heartfelt post on Twitter, Watson thanked each of the teams he played for over the course of his career and all those behind the scenes who helped him during his productive 15-year career with over 200 career games played. Watson also included Instagram posts featuring pictures of him with each team.
Watson was a 2004 first-round pick of the Patriots and spent the first six years of his career in New England. His best season with the Pats came in 2006 with 49 catches for 643 yards. He chipped in six touchdowns for the epic 2007 Patriots offense, a career-high total he would match in 2015 with the New Orleans Saints.
He is perhaps best remembered for a play he didn't quite make, as he ran down Champ Bailey in the 2005 AFC Divisional Round after the Broncos cornerback appeared headed for a pick-six. Watson ran the length of the field, knocking the ball out of Bailey's hands and out of bounds. Whether it went out of the end zone is still a contentious matter of debate.
Two plays with a better result were Watson's two touchdowns in the final minutes of the 2009 opener against the Bills, one of the Patriots original impossible comebacks.
The veteran tight end left the Patriots just before Rob Gronkowski arrived and returned the season after Gronk retired, but it was a disappointing year that saw Watson get hurt during the preseason, serve a four-game suspension to start the season and then get released just as he became eligible to return. He'd return to the team a week later and go on to catch 17 passes with no touchdowns in his final season.
Watson's retirement was expected as the Patriots will look to get younger and more production from their tight end group in 2020.