Benjamin Watson's second stint with the New England Patriots ended in disappointment.
The veteran tight end wasn't activated to the Patriots' 53-man roster by Monday's deadline, which made him a free agent. Watson talked publicly about the situation for the first time Wednesday afternoon during an interview on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni and Fauria."
“I wouldn’t characterize it as bitter," Watson said. "I am definitely disappointed. Definitely sad about the situation. You mentioned all those things. It’s different when it is just you, but when you are a father and a husband and you are making these types of decisions for your family -- you’re moving across the country, those types of things, which is part of the job -- there’s still a lot more to consider. That adds to it."
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Tuesday it was "tough" hearing the news of Watson's release. He called Watson a "great player" and a man of the "highest integrity." Watson was very appreciative of Brady's remarks.
"I did hear that," Watson said. "I texted him afterwards thanking him. I love that guy, seriously. You hear that a lot in football, but I really do love him. Part of the reason for coming here was to play with him again, and to spend time with him in the locker room but also to take the field and go out there and compete with him because he's the ultimate competitor. It meant a whole lot to me to hear him say that publicly the other day. ... If we don't get to play in (another) regular season game together, it was a privilege to be out there with him in the preseason and as well as in practice."
Watson was originally drafted by the Patriots in 2004 with the last pick in the first round. He spent the first six seasons of his career in New England before taking his talent elsewhere.
How much has Brady changed from Watson's first stint with the Patriots to now?
"From a playing standpoint, not that I can see," Watson explained. "He's still elite. He still has energy. He still throws a great pass. He's still very, very sharp mentally, which he would even tell you is one of this biggest assets. No matter how this plays out moving forward, one of the things I'll cherish is sitting beside him everyday during training camp with our lockers next to each other and even the past couple weeks, just sitting there talking about our families, about our life.
"So much has changed in the last decade. He has kids, I have kids. We've both been married for years now. We both got grey hair. We can sit there and talk about things we probably wouldn't have talked about 10 years ago because our lives are so much different. All that stuff has changed, but I really cherish the fact of being able to reconnect with him ... He really is one of the most genuine and just heartfelt caring people that I've ever met. But he still has a desire to play, and when we sit there and talk, he's like, 'I really enjoy playing the game. I love to compete.' And you can see it. That's why he's so good. That's why everybody rises to the occasion around him is because he genuinely loves to play the game and loves to go out there and win and compete and do all the stuff to prepare himself to play. He's just gotten better at that as time has gone on."
Watson signed a one-year contract with the Patriots in May, and he was suspended for the first four games of the 2019 regular season due to a failed drug test. Could Watson end up back in New England? Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn't completely shut the door on a comeback Tuesday, but right now the Patriots want to keep developing tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.