Patriots decline to activate tight end Ben Watson just before deadline

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots declined to activate tight end Ben Watson before Monday's 4 p.m. deadline, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. This will make the 38-year-old a free agent.

Watson served a four-game suspension to start the 2019 season and the Patriots also declined to activate him before Sunday's 33-7 win over the Redskins. Free-agent addition Matt LaCosse played a season-high 73 offensive snaps in the win, while Ryan Izzo played 20.

LaCosse and Izzo remain the only two active tight ends on the Patriots' 53-man roster now that Watson will not be activated.

According to Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, Watson said he would speak to the media on Tuesday, despite no longer being a part of the Patriots' roster. That could be an indication that he intends to announce his retirement. Watson has played 195 games over 15 seasons in the National Football League and retired after the 2018 season, only to come out of retirement to play for the Pats.

Benjamin Watson of the New England Patriots looks for yards after a second quarter catch while playing the Detroit Lions during a preseason game at Ford Field on August 08, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Benjamin Watson of the New England Patriots looks for yards after a second quarter catch while playing the Detroit Lions during a preseason game at Ford Field on August 08, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

With a tip of the cap to Alex Barth of CLNS Media, Thursday will mark the first time the Patriots played a game without employing either Watson or Rob Gronkowski at tight end since Super Bowl 38 against the Panthers, which took place on Feb. 1, 2004. That's over 15 years ago - 5,729 days, to be exact.

The move will create about $1.9 million in cap space for the Patriots, who would still need to make a roster move in order to add from outside the organization. At tight end, they're rumored to be pushing to acquire Tyler Eifert from the Bengals. He would cost the Pats $662,500 if they acquired him at the trade deadline.

As far as Watson, any idea that Watson would simply assume the No. 1 tight end role upon returning turned out to be short-sighted. Despite the encouraging performance from LaCosse and Izzo on Sunday at the Redskins, more depth and another pass-catching threat at the position would rank among the Pats' biggest needs moving forward.

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 [email protected].