Benjamin Watson

Extra Points: Offsets, Comp Picks, Watson

Every year there are a few first round picks that take a while to sign. On rare occasions, like in the case of Joey Bosa a few years ago, it causes them to miss regular season action. Last year, it was eighth overall pick Roquan Smith who took the longest to sign, as his negotiations with the Bears lasted into mid-August. The disputes are almost always about offset language, and we could all end up studying offset discrepancies again if an early pick prolongs the process. Interestingly, every first round pick that has signed so far, including first overall pick Kyler Murray, has had offset language included in their contracts, per Albert Breer of SI.com.

As Breer points out, it’s been a big sticking point ever since the 2011 CBA established slotted rookie contracts. With the amount of money locked in, it’s pretty much the only thing for agents to fight over. Breer writes that this year it’s “notable that teams are winning decisively in this area, considering how it caused dustups in the recent past.” While that’s true for now, the majority of first round picks still aren’t signed and it’s too early to be declaring the process smooth.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Teams are beginning to place more and more of an emphasis on compensatory picks, which isn’t surprising. In an era of professional sports when teams in every league are realizing the value of adding volume in drafts, NFL teams are wising up. Teams like the Patriots have been good at racking up compensatory picks for years, and other teams are starting to catch up. With the deadline for free agents to count against the compensatory pick formula passing recently, outlets are able to make their first projections about what the compensatory scene might look like for the 2020 draft. Our friends over at Overthecap.com came out with their projections, and New England looks likely to cash in once again. They project the Patriots to add two third round picks, for the departures of Trey Flowers and Trent Brown in free agency. The Eagles are projected to get the earliest compensatory pick, for the loss of Nick Foles.
  • Speaking of the Patriots, they signed tight end Ben Watson last week, luring him out of retirement. Now we have more details on his one-year contract, courtesy of Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). His $3MM deal will include $600k guaranteed in the form of a signing bonus. He can also earn a $1.45m base salary, $300k in per-game bonuses, and $650k in incentives assuming he sticks on the roster. Volin writes that it “doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot, but chances are likely” he’ll be on the team. Watson is 38 now so he certainly won’t be replacing Rob Gronkowski‘s receiving production all by himself, but he can play a serviceable role and be a nice veteran leader.

Patriots Sign Benjamin Watson

Benjamin Watson‘s Thursday visit with the Patriots will lead to a reunion. Ending a brief retirement, Watson plans to sign with the defending Super Bowl champions, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This will be a one-year, $3MM deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Watson signed the contract, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).

The Patriots drafted the tight end in the first round of the 2004 draft and look set to turn to him as one of their post-Rob Gronkowski solutions. This will be quite the interesting reunion, considering Watson is nine years older than Gronkowski and preceded the future Hall of Famer in intentions to retire less than six months ago.

Word surfaced shortly before the draft that Watson was not set on leaving the game behind, and Gronk’s retirement naturally made New England a logical destination. Watson also had the Chiefs, Bills and 49ers on his radar (after the Saints signed Jared Cook) and will join Austin Seferian-Jenkins as key components of the Pats’ tight end corps.

He spent six years with the Pats, leaving after the 2009 season to sign with the Browns. Watson has since played for the Ravens and enjoyed multiple Saints stints. A month after Watson initially left New England, the Pats added Gronk and reshaped their dynasty. Now as they look to further prolong it, they will turn to a 38-year-old veteran.

Only a few tight ends, including Antonio Gates last season, have played past their 38th birthdays. No pure tight end, discounting long snappers, has suited up past his 39th. Watson turns 39 in December. Only Watson and Larry Fitzgerald remain in the league as skill-position players from the ’04 draft.

Watson finished last season with 35 receptions for 400 yards and two touchdowns. While he will not be mistaken for Gronkowski, the former Super Bowl winner has obviously displayed remarkable staying power and stands to team with ASJ to help out in filling the void Gronk’s retirement created. A former No. 32 overall pick, Watson caught six of Tom Brady‘s 50 touchdown passes in 2007 and, amazingly, will be called upon to help in the quarterback’s age-42 season.

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Patriots Meet With Ben Watson

Former Saints tight end Ben Watson, who previously said he would retire, will meet with the Patriots on Thursday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Watson isn’t putting all of his eggs into the Patriots’ basket, either – he’s also considering the Chiefs, Bills and, 49ers, according to Schefter. 

Watson is a free agent following the expiration of his one-year, $2MM Saints contract. He played four of the past six seasons with the Saints, who since replaced him with pricey free agent Jared Cook.

Watson played the 2017 season with the Ravens, missing all of 2016 due to injury, and spent the first three years of this decade in Cleveland. Unfortunately, his 2018 season ended a bit early when he missed the NFC championship game due to appendicitis. He caught 35 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

Now, he could return to where it all began. Watson spent the first six years of his career with the Patriots after entering the league as the final first-round pick in the 2004 draft. After Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement, the Pats could certainly use the help, even if Watson doesn’t offer the same upside as the party animal.

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Benjamin Watson Interested In Patriots?

If Benjamin Watson returns to the NFL, he could join up with a contender that is badly in need of a tight end. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Watson comes back and signs with the Patriots, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Ben Watson Considering Comeback]

The Patriots lost one of the game’s very best tight ends when Rob Gronkowski retired earlier this offseason. Rumors continue to swirl about Gronk making a comeback of his own, but for now, the Patriots are moving forward with the belief that Gronk is gone for good.

Watson is 38 years old, but there’s reason to believe he can still be productive if he gets back on the gridiron. In 2017, his lone season with the Ravens, Watson compiled 61 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Last year’s Saints return did not produce a gaudy stat line, but he still managed 35 grabs for 400 yards and two scores.

Only a few tight ends, including Antonio Gates last season, have played past their 38th birthdays. No pure tight end, discounting long snappers, has suited up past his 39th. Watson turns 39 in December.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Benjamin Watson Considering Comeback

Having already had one of the longest careers of a modern skill-position player, Benjamin Watson may decide to come back for one more season.

The free agent tight end is considering a return, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Watson said near the end of last season his 15th NFL campaign would be his last. Now? Maybe not.

If the situation is right, the 38-year-old veteran may consider a return, Schefter adds. Watson and his wife plan to welcome twins next week, so a comeback will almost certainly be a post-draft consideration. Teams’ depth charts will become clearer after next weekend’s event.

Watson is a free agent after his one-year, $2MM Saints contract expired. He played four of the past six seasons with the Saints, who since moved on to Jared Cook. Watson played the 2017 season with the Ravens, missing all of 2016 due to injury, and spent the first three years of this decade in Cleveland. Watson began his career with the Patriots, playing six years in New England.

Watson’s 2018 season ended early. He missed the NFC championship game because of appendicitis. He caught 35 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

Only a few tight ends, including Antonio Gates last season, have played past their 38th birthdays. No pure tight end, discounting long snappers, has suited up past his 39th. Watson turns 39 in December.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints ‘ Ben Watson To Miss NFC Title Game

Saints tight end Ben Watson won’t play this week against the Rams, a source tells ESPN.com’s Katherine Terrell (on Twitter). Watson missed two practices due to appendicitis and the painful malady will prevent him from taking the field.

Watson has been able to avoid surgery so far, but anyone who has dealt with appendicitis knows that it’s debilitating, at least in the short term. But, should the Saints reach the Super Bowl, Watson will have a couple of weeks to rest up and get ready for the big game.

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 the Saints on a one-year, $2MM deal back in March, and he appeared in all 16 games for the team in 2018, compiling 35 receptions for 400 yards and two scores. The first score was extra special as it was Drew Brees‘ 500th career touchdown pass.

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Saints TE Ben Watson Plans To Retire

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.

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Contract Details: Mathieu, Pamphile, Watson, Weeden

Some details on recent free agent deals (all links via Twitter):

NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero also has signing bonus/guarantee details on players who signed one-year deals: TE Levine Toilolo $400K (Lions), LB Pernell McPhee $350K (Redskins), QB Brandon Weeden $90K (Texans), CB Leon Hall $45K (Raiders).

Saints Sign TE Benjamin Watson

Tight end Ben Watson agreed to a one-year deal with the Saints, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This marks a return for Watson, who spent 2013-2015 with New Orleans. 

The Saints tried to facilitate a more ambitious tight end reunion this offseason by pursuing Seahawks free agent Jimmy Graham. That didn’t pan out, but they have managed to add experience at the position at a cheaper rate by signing Watson.

Watson had 61 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games with the Ravens last season, demonstrating that he’s still productive, even in his old age. The veteran turned 37 in December.

Watson’s 2015 season with the Saints was the best of his long career. In that campaign, he set career-highs in receptions (74), yards (825), and touchdowns (six) while catching passes from Drew Brees.

The 2004 draft product will now compete with Coby Fleener for the starting role and he may have the edge after Fleener managed just 22 catches last season. Josh HillMichael Hoomanawanui, and Garrett Grayson fill out the club’s tight end depth chart.

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Saints Host TE Benjamin Watson

The Saints hosted free agent tight end Benjamin Watson on Tuesday, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As of last week, Watson was reportedly discussing a deal with the Chiefs, but the veteran pass-catcher is now taking visits elsewhere, leaving the status of his talks with Kansas City unclear.

Watson should be extremely familiar to the New Orleans staff, as the 37-year-old played for the club from 2013-15. That 2015 season marked the most successful campaign of Watson’s lengthy NFL career, as he set career-highs in receptions (74), yards (825), and touchdowns (six) while catching passes from Drew Brees. Watson inked a two-year deal with the Ravens the following spring, and after a torn Achilles sidelined him for the 2016 season, Watson bounced back with a 61/522/4 line last year.

The Saints have yet to address their tight end group this offseason, although it’s a unit that could use improvements. Starter Coby Fleener managed only 22 catches a year ago but will almost certainly make New Orleans’ roster following the guarantee of his 2018 base salary, while the rest of the club’s depth chart — which includes Josh Hill, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Garrett Grayson — doesn’t offer much upside. Saints head coach Sean Payton called reinforcing tight end a “must,” tweets Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, so additions could be made via the draft if Watson or another free agent isn’t signed.

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