What Benjamin Watson's suspension means for Patriots

Ryan Hannable
May 27, 2019 - 8:21 am

On Sunday afternoon it was learned Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson will be suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season.

Watson went into great detail explaining what happened. The 38-year-old retired following last season and was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate to help his body heal following a long career. Weeks later, he received a letter saying he had tested positive and by that time he was considering coming out of retirement. Watson told teams what happened and how he would be facing a four-game suspension to start the year. A few days later, he signed with the Patriots.

So, the Patriots signed Watson, they knew they wouldn't have him for the first month of the season.

Watson can still participate in training camp and the preseason games, he just cannot be in the facility once Week 1 begins and he isn't eligible to return until Oct. 6 against the Redskins. Watson also does not count towards the 53-man roster in Weeks 1-4.

This does add to the difficult offseason for the Patriots at the tight end position with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. As of now, the team has a depth chart of Watson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and undrafted rookie Andrew Beck.

Seferian-Jenkins is almost a lock to make the roster now and then it would seem LaCosse, Anderson, Izzo and Beck are battling for two spots come Week 1 -- although it's possible the team only keeps two tight ends knowing Watson will be returning in a month.

For Watson specifically, it isn't the worst thing in the world as at age 38 a full NFL season would likely be a ton on his body and having the first four games off could potentially make him fresher for the stretch run and postseason. The Patriots have seen these pay off in the past -- just look at Tom Brady and Julian Edelman in recent years.

The suspension could see the Patriots be more aggressive in adding another tight end by the time training camp comes because there's still so much uncertainty at the position. Kyle Rudolph and his situation in Minnesota is certainly one to watch, as he would be a great fit with the Patriots and would make even more sense given Watson's four-game suspension.

Right now, it appears Seferian-Jenkins and LaCosse are almost locks to make the team and then whoever shows the best over the summer between Anderson, Izzo and Beck should also earn a spot. As for who would go once Watson returns, those things generally have a way of working themselves out.

Bottom line, while the team would have obviously wanted Watson on the field all 16 games, him missing the first four games shouldn't impact things too much.

Related: Chris Hogan reflects on time in New England, signing with Panthers: 'It was time to move on'

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