Patriots

Ben Watson very appreciative of Tom Brady's remarks Monday: 'I love that guy'

Ben Watson very appreciative of Tom Brady's remarks Monday: 'I love that guy'

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.

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NFL Rumors: Patriots re-sign undrafted rookie WR Isaiah Zuber

NFL Rumors: Patriots re-sign undrafted rookie WR Isaiah Zuber

The New England Patriots brought one of their undrafted rookies back into the fold on Wednesday.

Isaiah Zuber, a wide receiver out of Mississippi State, reportedly has been re-signed after being cut by the team a week ago.


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Zuber played three seasons at Kansas State before transferring to Mississippi State for his senior season, in which he tallied 14 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns. The 23-year-old's best college season came during his junior year, when he had 52 catches for 619 yards and five touchdowns.

The Patriots have had eight players opt out of the 2020 NFL season so far -- including WR Marqise Lee -- thus opening up roster spots for the undrafted free agents who initially were cut. Fellow UDFA receiver Will Hastings also was re-signed by the team shortly after being released.

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL opt-outs: Complete list of players who won't play in 2020 season

NFL training camps officially began Tuesday, but there were some notable absences.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season last Friday, citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, multiple players have followed suit, continuing a trend across all major North American professional sports of players declining to participate in their seasons as COVID-19 persists in the United States.

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The Patriots especially have felt the impact of this trend: Eight New England players -- including star linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- already have opted out, the most of any NFL team.

Below is a running list of the players who have opted out of the 2020 NFL season, according to reports or team/player confirmations. The list is sorted alphabetically after the Patriots, with the date of the players' opt-outs in parentheses.

New England Patriots

RB Brandon Bolden (July 28)
OT Marcus Cannon (July 28)
S Patrick Chung (July 28)
LB Dont'a Hightower (July 28)
WR Marqise Lee (August 1)
OG Najee Toran (July 27)
FB Danny Vitale (July 27)
TE Matt LaCosse (August 2)

Arizona Cardinals

OT Marcus Gilbert (August 4)

Baltimore Ravens

OT Andre Smith (July 28)
WR/KR De'Anthony Thomas (July 27)

Buffalo Bills

CB E.J. Gaines (August 2)
DT Star Lotulelei (July 28)

Carolina Panthers

LB Jordan Mack (July 28)
LB Christian Miller (August 3)

Chicago Bears

DT Eddie Goldman (July 28)
S Jordan Lucas (August 3)

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Isaiah Prince (July 31)
DT Josh Tupou (July 31)

Cleveland Browns

DT Andrew Billings (August 4)
OL Drake Dorbeck (July 29)
OL Drew Forbes (July 29)
OL Colby Gossett (August 4)

Dallas Cowboys

CB Maurice Canady (July 27)
WR Stephen Guidry (July 28)
FB Jamize Olawale (August 2)

Denver Broncos

OT JaWuan James (August 3)
DT Kyle Peko (July 28)

Detroit Lions

DT John Atkins (July 29)
WR Geronimo Allison (August 2)
C Russell Bodine (August 5)

Green Bay Packers

WR Devin Funchess (July 28)

Houston Texans

DT Eddie Vanderdoes (July 28)

Indianapolis Colts

DB Rolan Milligan (August 5) 
LB Skai Moore (August 4)
DB Marvell Tell (August 5)

Jacksonville Jaguars

EDGE Larentee McCray (August 1)
DL Al Woods (July 31)

Kansas City Chiefs

OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (July 24)
RB Damien Williams (July 29)

Las Vegas Raiders

LB Ukeme Eligwe (August 4)
CB D.J. Killings (August 3)
DE Jeremiah Valoaga (August 3)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Chandler Brewer (July 31)

Miami Dolphins

WR Allen Hurns (August 4)
WR Albert Wilson (August 5)

Minnesota Vikings

NT Michael Pierce (July 28)

New Orleans Saints

TE Jason Vander Laan (July 28)
TE Cole Wick (July 28)

New York Giants

CB Sam Beal (August 5)
WR Da'Mari Scott (August 2)
LT Nate Solder (July 29)

New York Jets

OL Leo Koloamatangi (July 28)
LB C.J. Mosley (August 1)

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Marquise Goodwin (July 28)

San Francisco 49ers

WR Travis Benjamin (August 4)

Seattle Seahawks

OG Chance Warmack (July 27)

Tennessee Titans

OL Anthony McKinney (July 28)

Washington Football Team

DT Caleb Brantley (July 27)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (August 3)

Free Agents

G Larry Warford (July 28)