New England Patriots

Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints runs for yards following a reception against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Detroit defeated New Orleans 35-27. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints runs for yards following a reception against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Detroit defeated New Orleans 35-27. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Ben Watson announced he would retire after the 2018 season. But now the veteran tight end may reverse course – all the way back to his original team.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Thursday that the Patriots are hosting Watson for a free-agent visit on Thursday. Watson is reportedly also considering the Chiefs, Bills, and 49ers. But considering his familiarity with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and the Patriots’ uncertainty at tight end, this match makes a lot of sense.

Watson played the first six seasons of his career in New England, catching 167 passes for 2,102 yards and 20 touchdowns in 71 games. Though he never quite panned out according to his first-round draft stock on the field, Watson developed into a solid all-around contributor and enjoyed nine more NFL seasons with the Saints (twice), Browns, and Ravens. His most productive season came in 2015 with New Orleans, when he made 74 catches for 825 yards and 6 touchdowns.

The Patriots’ tight end depth chart is as unresolved as it’s been since Watson’s departure after the 2009 season. He would bookend the career of Rob Gronkowski, who retired after topping the roster for the Patriots from 2010-18. Watson would join fellow free-agent additions Matt LaCosse and Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end. The Pats also have 2018 signing Stephen Anderson, 2018 seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo, and 2019 undrafted free agent Andrew Beck out of Texas.

Watson would be a worthwhile dart to throw at the board for the coming season.

In New England, Watson is best remembered for a play he made as a defender in a playoff loss. The Patriots’ 27-13 letdown at the hands of the Broncos in the 2005 divisional round left a sour taste, but Watson endeared himself to the region when he ran down Hall of Famer Champ Bailey after a 100-yard return. Watson walloped Bailey at the 1-yard line to knock the ball loose and prevent a pick-six.

Denver scored on the next play and won the game. But that’s the kind of player and person Watson is. He wasn’t going to give up on that play and the 38-year-old doesn’t seem very interested in giving up his NFL career. We’ll see if he chooses the Patriots.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.