Watson, who had returned from a four-game NFL suspension last week, reacted to the decision on Twitter.
The God of victory is also God in failure. I gave my all, but it was not enough to earn a spot on the @Patriots roster. I’m beyond disappointed but even more upset for my family who has supported me with all the love a husband and father could ask for.They are my heroes. Rom 8:28
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) October 7, 2019
This means the Patriots will go with four-year veteran Matt LaCosse and second-year player Ryan Izzo at tight end. Head coach Bill Belichick noted after Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Washington Redskins that it was nice to have both tight ends active, and contributing, as LaCosse had missed time early in the season with an ankle injury.
With the Patriots’ offense hitting some rough patches from the second quarter of their Week 3 win over the New York Jets until halftime of their Week 5 victory over Washington, the possibility of Watson helping boost the attack seemed promising for New England.
But there were signals from the team that Watson’s spot wasn’t certain, starting with him not being at practice last Wednesday. He also didn’t make the trip to Washington this weekend.
“Just don’t have a roster spot,” Belichick told WEEI. “We only have so many roster spots. If we put somebody on, we have to take somebody off. Right now, there wasn’t a roster spot. We didn’t feel like there was somebody we could create a roster spot with. Everybody came out of the game healthy. We have a decent team. So I think that’s where we’re at.”
Players had nothing but praise for Watson following his release.
“It wasn’t so much football, he’s just such a good person, such a strong leader,” LaCosse said of the 38-year-old Watson. “I learned from him how to handle yourself off the field, to be around your teammates. He’s such a great guy to learn from, so much character.”
“Ben is just a great person to be around,” veteran cornerback Jason McCourty added. “Football aside, a guy who is strong in his faith, mature, a father of seven, so a lot to learn from him from that standpoint.”
The Patriots, who are tight to the salary cap, created about $2 million in space by not activating Watson.