Patriots

Tom Brady pays Ben Watson incredible compliment in heartfelt Instagram reply

Tom Brady pays Ben Watson incredible compliment in heartfelt Instagram reply

New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson hasn't officially announced his retirement, but he hinted that it's a possibility after the defending Super Bowl champs suffered a season-ending loss to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

Watson posted an emotional Instagram on Monday that touched on quite a few subjects. In a lengthy caption, the 38-year-old veteran expressed his disappointment in how the season ended, wished the remaining playoff teams good luck, and noted how thankful he was for the opportunity, among other things.

View this post on Instagram

Saturday’s game was tough for a number of reasons. This season, this calendar year, had many expected and unexpected challenges professionally and personally. The emotional investment rivals the physical in this sport, and after months of competition, adversity, and perseverance the bonds between brothers run deep and expectations remain high as we pursued the coveted return. Through it all I’m thankful for another season to play this great game. It has been a joy to share the locker room with these men and truly special to reunite with so many familiar faces. I wish it would have ended in Miami. There’s nothing I wanted more for my family and myself especially at this point in my career. Life is about perspective and disappointment has a special way of challenging that conviction. Thank you for supporting my family and this team this year. We could feel the love. We are truly blessed. Best of luck to Tennessee and the other teams still in the race. #Sweet16

A post shared by benjaminswatson (@benjaminswatson) on

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady liked the post, and he also replied with a heartfelt message for Watson.

There's a great amount of mutual respect between Brady and Watson, who have spent a total of seven seasons as teammates.

When the veteran tight end was released by the Patriots in October, Brady said it was "tough" hearing that news and called Watson a "great player" and a man of the "highest integrity." Watson was very appreciative of the remarks and told WEEI at the time, "I love that guy," in reference to Brady.

The Patriots brought Watson back a few weeks later, and it's unclear if Saturday's game will end up being the final one of his 15-year career. He is among several Patriots players who will hit the free agent market this offseason.

Report: Tom Brady dealt with foot injury this past season

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Tom Brady is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 20-year NFL career. While the legendary quarterback could return to the New England Patriots in 2020, there's no guarantee that he will.

If Brady doesn't return, the Patriots will have a number of ways to address the quarterback position. They could target a free agent passer in one of the strongest free agent quarterback classes ever. They could spend a draft pick on one in a strong 2020 quarterback draft class.

Or they could roll with the only other quarterback option they currently have on their roster, 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Stidham spent his rookie season backing up Brady and played a grand total of 15 snaps for the squad. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and threw an interception in that action.

Despite his relative inexperience, Stidham would theoretically be the next man up at quarterback if Brady leaves. But moving forward, he isn't thinking a lot about Brady's impending free agency. He's more focused on what he can do to improve heading into his second year.

"Right now, I can't really think too much about [Brady's free agency]. I have to worry about what I need to do to prepare to enhance my game, to learn as much as I possibly can," Stidham said per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "That's the biggest thing I've focused on, making a big stride from Year 1 to Year 2."

That said, Stidham did call his time learning as Brady's backup "priceless" and said that Brady is "phenomenal" in all facets of the game.

"He's a phenomenal teammate, a phenomenal person, obviously a phenomenal player," Stidham said per Reiss. "There was just so much that I got to learn from him. He was obviously very open to me about stuff that he's thought about the game of football, and stuff like that. It was great. I can't speak highly enough of that guy."

Perhaps Stidham's time learning from Brady has served him well. After all, Patriots fans haven't seen him in action since Week 7 and Phil Perry reported that Stidham was impressing his teammates and coaches alike in late-December.

But is he ready to be a starter? The Patriots moves this offseason will surely tell us more about their thoughts on that.

The Patriots won't definitively know what Brady's plans are for 2020 until he puts pen to paper somewhere. In the interim, it's at least encouraging that Stidham is putting in the effort behind the scenes to improve after spending a year learning from Brady. 

Eminem name-drops Tom Brady on his just-released album

Eminem name-drops Tom Brady on his just-released album

Tom Brady appears to have a kindred spirit as his career continues into his 40s.

Eminem name-drops TB12 on the track "Premonition" off the album "Music To Be Murdered By" which he released on Friday.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App. 

The song takes on the critics of the 47-year-old rapper from Detroit and compares the critiques he gets to ones leveled at LeBron James, 35, and the Patriots quarterback, who'll turn 43 in August. 

Here's part of the song:

“Revival flopped, came back and I scared the crap out ‘em

But Rolling Stone stars, I get two and a half outta

Five, and I’ll laugh out loud

‘Cause that’s what they gave BAD back in the day

Which actually made me not feel as bad now, ‘cause

If it happened to James

It can happen to Shady

They do the same [expletive] to Brady

More people hate me than love me

This game will make you go crazy.”

It's not Eminem's first reference to Brady in one of his songs. In 2013's "Baby", he raps, "I'm what Tom Brady is to the Patriots of rap. Not a man, a weapon."

And it's just the latest Brady reference that has dotted hip-hop and rap since the mid-2000s when the QB led the Pats to the second and third of the six Super Bowl titles they've won. Other artists such as Drake, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Kanye West have referenced him as a symbol of excellence. 

Brady told the Boston Globe last year before the Super Bowl he appreciates it.

 “That’s always really cool,” Brady said. “I’m a big fan of so many of those guys. I have a lot of friends [in music] that I’ve met over the years that are fans of what we do, too...I think that mutual appreciation or admiration is really flattering.”