FOXBORO, Mass. – The New England Patriots cut Ben Watson because they have a roster spot for him. Once they did, they brought him back.
The straightforward explanation Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave Thursday when asked why the team chose to re-sign the veteran tight end.
"We had a roster spot," Belichick said. "We had availability. (Fullback Jakob Johnson) went on IR, so we had an opportunity to put (Watson) on the roster that we had the week before. "
Watson has yet to appear in a regular-season game for the Patriots since returning to New England this spring following a decade spent in Cleveland, Baltimore and New Orleans. The 38-year-old began the season by serving a four-game PED suspension, after which the team decided not to activate him, making him a free agent.
The Patriots initially opted to roll with Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo as their only two tight ends, but after LaCosse and Johnson both suffered injuries during a win over the New York Giants last Thursday, they changed course. In addition to re-signing Watson, they also signed former New York Jets and Giants tight end Eric Tomlinson to arguably the team's weakest position group.
At 6-foot-6, 263 pounds, Tomlinson is the biggest tight end on the Patriots' roster. He also played some fullback for the Jets in 201
"We'll see," the coach said. "We haven't had a lot of time with him, but we'll work with him and see what kind of role he can develop for himself, if there is one . We'll see. … Being a bigger guy, has blocking ability. He has been in the backfield. He played on the line of scrimmage. We'll see how all of that plays out. "
The 6-0 Patriots, who cut third-string quarterback Cody Kessler to make room for Tomlinson, are preparing to visit the 1-4 Jets on Monday night.
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox / NESN