Ben Watson explains why he came out of retirement, returned to New England

Ryan Hannable
May 23, 2019 - 2:59 pm

FOXBORO -- Ben Watson's retirement didn't last long at all.

After announcing last season would be his last, following considering media and player development opportunities, the 38-year-old decided to return to football and sign with the Patriots, the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft.

"Part of it was I was retried. I was done. I wasn't even a free agent. I was done, off the books for a couple of months," Watson said following Thursday's OTA session. "I was considering other opportunities moving forward to different occupations. And talking to my wife, talking to the kids and family. Probably right around late April, early May, I started to think, 'Maybe, let's just see if there's an opportunity to play one more year. Once you're done, you're done. Maybe there's an opportunity to do one more.'

"And I said I really didn't want to go -- I didn't want to go to the west coast. I didn't want to go anywhere crazy. I wanted to go somewhere I knew people, somewhere I felt my family would excel and do well. I would have loved to stay in New Orleans or come somewhere in New England where I knew people. So, New England offered and reached out and said there was an interest there. We definitely thought it was a good thing. Thought it would be a good fit."

While the culture hasn't changed, Watson admitted the playbook has.

"It's quite different as to be expected," he said. "Josh [McDaniels] has been here, he's left, he's come back. There have been different offensive coaches, different players that have been here, and sometimes you cater to your personnel. So, things might change. The terminology has to change because obviously after time, defenses aren't dumb. And they pick up on what the quarterback's saying, so they change. So, offensively, we have to change terms and stuff like that. There are a lot of different terms. There are a lot of different formations, terminology. There are some carryover, a little bit, but so far it has been a process of learning a lot of new stuff, which is good."

After the 2009 season, Watson departed to Cleveland where he spent three seasons. From there he went to New Orleans for three and Baltimore for one, before returning to the Saints last season where he totaled 35 catches for 400 yards and two touchdowns.

As it stands now, Watson has a decent chance of being the Patriots' No. 1 tight end, competing with Austin Seferian-Jenkins for that role.

"This is just the beginning," Watson said. "There are going to be guys who are in and out. I'll be in and out. We've got family things. We train different places in the offseason. It's still very early. Everybody is trying to compete and compile their best team right now, 32 cities around the league. We have plenty of time here, but while we're here, we're definitely trying to get better."

Related: Jamie Collins addresses returning to New England, 2016 trade to Cleveland