That heartfelt Instagram exchange between Tom Brady and Ben Watson last week wasn't just posturing.

The Patriots quarterback and tight end truly are close friends, as Watson spent six years as Brady's teammate during his original stint with New England.

According to Watson, Brady provided physical proof of their tight bond late in the 2019 season by gifting the 39-year-old tight end his white Patriots jersey with a personalized autograph.

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As Watson told ESPN's Mike Reiss, this gesture surprised him -- because he had asked Brady for one of his jerseys just minutes earlier.

Watson told me he had asked Brady for a jersey, only to be stunned about 30 minutes later when he returned to his locker to see it hanging inside with an inspirational message reminding him, among other things, that they were brothers for life.

The veteran tight end hinted at retirement after the Patriots' Wild Card Round loss to the Tennessee Titans, so this was an especially nice gesture by Brady to send his friend off with a parting gift.