At least one New England Patriots veteran is likely retiring after the conclusion of the 2019 season.
After the Patriots were defeated by the Tennessee Titans, 20-13, at Gillette Stadium in the Wild Card round on Saturday, 39-year-old tight end Benjamin Watson signaled that the end is likely here for his NFL career.
Watson Was Originally a Patriot in 2004
The 39-year-old Watson was originally a first-round draft choice of the Patriots all the way back in 2004. The veteran tight end spent the first six seasons of his career in New England before becoming a journeyman of sorts during the latter half of his career.
Watson spent three years with the Cleveland Browns (2010-2012) before taking his talents to the New Orleans Saints (2013-2015) and then taking his talents to the Baltimore Ravens for the next two seasons (2016-17).
The University of Georgia product then returned to New Orleans for one more stint in 2018, catching Drew Brees‘ 500th career touchdown pass.
After initially deciding he would retire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Patriots lured Watson out of retirement in May. After being suspended for the first four games of the season due to performance-enhancing drugs, the Pats decided to keep him on the roster, only to release him in October. New England then re-signed him a week later and he became Tom Brady‘s favorite target at tight end for the duration of the season.
Watson finished the season with 17 catches for 173 yards and even caught three passes for 38 yards in the team’s loss to the Titans on Saturday night.
If this is indeed the end of Watson’s career, he will retire with career totals of 530 receptions for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns during his 14-year career.
Tom Brady Not Likely to Retire?
While one longtime Patriots veteran is signaling the end is near, that didn’t seem to be the case with Brady following New England’s loss.
Although speculation has been rampant that this is the end for the 42-year-old, the veteran quarterback said that it was unlikely that his career is over before the 2020 season starts.
Via Conor Roche of The Boston Globe:
“I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely,” Brady said when asked in his postgame press conference if there was any possibility.
Brady will become a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason. The 20-year veteran — who was originally a sixth-round draft choice of the Patriots — stressed that he wants to continue playing for the only franchise he’s ever known.
“I love the Patriots,” Brady said. “It’s the greatest organization. Playing for Mr. [Robert] Kraft all of these years and for Coach [Bill] Belichick, there’s nobody who has had a better career I would say than me, just being with them. I’m very blessed.”
“I don’t know what the future looks like, and I’m not going to predict it. I wish we would’ve won tonight. I wish we did a lot of things better over the course of the season, but we just didn’t get the job done.”
With the defending Super Bowl champions’ season officially over, it should be an interesting offseason in New England heading into 2020.