FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots brought back a familiar face at tight end after Rob Gronkowski's retirement, but Benjamin Watson's second stint with the franchise ultimately didn't work out.
Watson was suspended for the first four games of the regular season because of a failed drug test. He could have played in Week 5 against the Washington Redskins but wasn't activated by the Saturday deadline. The Patriots chose not to activate him to their 53-man roster by Monday afternoon's deadline, thus making him a free agent.
"Like Ben. We just don't have a roster spot for him right now," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said at his Tuesday press conference. "Maybe that will change, but for the moment, that's where it is."
It's interesting Belichick noted the situation could change.
The Patriots roster could look a bit different after the trade deadline, which is set for Oct.29 at 4 p.m. ET. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Sunday the Patriots have been among the "most active" teams ahead of the trade deadline. Based on any moves made and not made before that deadline, maybe the Patriots decide Watson would be worth having on the 53-man roster. He has far more experience than any of the tight ends currently on the Pats depth chart.
Speaking of those tight ends, New England primarily has used Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse at the position this season. Belichick admitted Tuesday the Patriots intend to keep developing them.
"They're both younger players who are developing," Belichick said. "We feel like they have some upside, done a decent job for us. We certainly have a ways to go, but have had enough production that we want to keep working with them."
LaCosse and Izzo haven't factored much into the Patriots passing attack, combining for seven receptions, 138 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets. Izzo has been the more productive tight end with four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. His best game came Sunday versus the Redskins, when he caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots are the third-highest scoring team in the league with 31 points per game, which is pretty impressive when you consider the tight end position hasn't contributed much.
However, for the Patriots to have a well-balanced offensive attack entering the playoffs, they need more production from their tight ends in the passing game, especially with veteran wide receivers Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett all having been banged up a bit at various points throughout this season.
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