FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced that they have re-signed TE Ben Watson and signed TE Eric Tomlinson. Terms of the contracts were not announced. The Patriots also released QB Cody Kessler. In addition, the Patriots signed OL Tyler Gauthier and WR Devin Ross to the practice squad and released K Younghoe Koo and TE Jason Vander Laan from the practice squad.
Watson, 38, was signed by the Patriots on May 10, 2019, and released on Oct. 11, 2019. He is a veteran of 15 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots (2004-09), Cleveland Browns (2010-12), New Orleans Saints (2013-15, 2018) and the Baltimore Ravens (2016-17). The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder originally entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick (32nd overall) by the Patriots out of Georgia in 2004 and spent his first six seasons with the team.
During his NFL career, Watson has played in 195 regular-season games with 135 starts and has 530 receptions for 5,885 yards with 44 touchdowns. He has also played in 12 postseason games with nine starts and totaled 22 receptions for 234 yards and three touchdowns.
After six seasons in New England, Watson signed with Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent on March 12, 2010. He joined New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent on March 13, 2013, and signed with Baltimore as an unrestricted free agent on March 10, 2016. After two seasons with Baltimore, Watson re-joined New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent on March 29, 2018.
Last season in New Orleans, Watson played in 16 games with four starts and finished with 35 receptions for 400 yards with two touchdowns. He also appeared in one game in the postseason and caught one pass for 12 yards.
Tomlinson, 27, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 out of Texas El Paso. The 6-foot-6, 263-pounder, spent the first year and half on the Houston practice squad before being signed to the New York Jets on Nov. 5, 2016 from the Houston practice squad. He spent three seasons with the Jets, playing in 36 games with 29 starts and accumulating 16 receptions for 193 yards with one touchdown. Tomlinson was released by the Jets on Aug. 31, 2019 and claimed off waivers by the New York Giants on Sept. 1. After playing in three games, Tomlinson was released by the Giants on Sept. 24, 2019.
Gauthier, 22, was originally signed by New England as a rookie free agent out of Miami (Fla.) on May 2, 2019. The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder was released by New England on Aug. 31, 2019. Gauthier was a three-year starter at center and guard, finishing his college career with 29 straight starts with 25 straight at center.
Ross, 24, signed with the Tennessee Titans as a rookie free agent out of Colorado on May 11, 2018. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder was released prior to the start of the regular season and joined the Titans practice squad on Oct. 15, 2018. Ross was released by Tennessee on May 15, 2019, and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on May 28, 2019. He was released on July 16, 2019. Over four seasons at Colorado, Ross appeared in 49 games with 31 starts and totaled 140 receptions for 1,621 yards and nine touchdowns.
Kessler, 26, was signed by New England on Sept. 25, 2019. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft selection (93rd overall) by Cleveland in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Southern California. Kessler has played in 17 regular-season games with 12 starts over his three-year career with Cleveland (2016-17) and Jacksonville (2018) and has completed 224-of-349 pass attempts (64.2%) for 2,215 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Last season with the Jaguars, he appeared in five games with four starts and completed 85-of-131 pass attempts (64.9%) for 709 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while leading the Jaguars to a 2-2 record. He went to training camp with Philadelphia this past summer was and was released on Aug. 30, 2019.
Koo, 25, was signed by the Patriots to the practice squad on Oct. 4, 2019. He played in four games in 2017 with the Los Angeles Chargers after joining the team as a rookie free agent out Georgia Southern. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder connected on 3-of-6 field goals and all nine extra points attempts before being released on Oct. 5, 2017. Koo played for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF in 2019 and scored the first points in the league’s history on a 38-yard field goal.
Vander Laan, 27, was signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 25, 2019. The 6-foot-3, 244-pounder originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the New York Jets out of Ferris State on May 6, 2016. Vander Laan spent part of his rookie season in 2016 on the Jets practice squad and was released prior to the start of the 2017 regular season. He joined the Indianapolis Colts practice squad on Nov. 3, 2017, and signed with the Indianapolis 53-man roster on Nov. 25. Vander Laan appeared in four games as a reserve and did not accrue any statistics. He joined the Carolina Panthers in the 2018 offseason and had stints on the Panthers practice squad and 53-man roster but did not appear in any games. He was released by the Panthers on Aug. 30, 2019.