It sounds like Ben Watson will play in his final regular season game on Sunday. Josh Katzenstein of The Times-Picayune reports (via Twitter) that the veteran tight end is planning on retiring at the end of the season.
The 38-year-old has been incredibly durable throughout his 15-year career. Watson appeared in at least 12 games in 13 of his 15 seasons, and he had at least 20 receptions in 12 of those campaigns. The 2004 first-round pick spent the first six years of his career with the Patriots, including New England’s Super Bowl run in 2004 (although he won on the IR during their playoff run). Watson then spent three seasons in Cleveland before finding a home in New Orleans; the tight end has spent four of his past six seasons with the Saints (he also had a two-year stint with the Ravens).
Watson has been particularly productive during his tenure with New Orleans, including a 2015 campaign where he compiled a career-high 825 receiving yards. Watson re-joined New Orleans on a one-year, $2MM deal back in March, and he’s appeared in 15 games (four starts) for the Saints this season, compiling 33 receptions for 371 yards and two scores (including Drew Brees‘ 500th career touchdown pass).
Despite being up there in age, the veteran has still graded out as one of the better tight ends in the NFL. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Watson 21st among 70 eligible tight ends, with the site giving him particularly high scores in receiving and pass blocking.
In his career, Watson has 528 receptions, 5,856 receiving yards, and 44 touchdowns. The veteran has also appeared in 11 career postseason games, hauling in 21 receptions for 222 yards and three touchdowns. The tight end has been a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, and he’s a former winner of the Bart Starr Award.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.