For the first time in quite a long while, the Pittsburgh Steelers tight end depth chart might actually be better than the one the New England Patriots currently have. That current Patriots depth chart includes veteran Benjamin Watson, who announced Sunday evening on Facebook that he’s now facing a four game suspension to start the 2019 regular season for violating the league’s banned substance policy.
Below is a part of what Watson wrote on Facebook in which he explained the reason for him being suspended.
“After my contract expired last March I told my doctors I was finished playing, went through a series of medical tests and was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate to assist in healing my body and mind.
“On March 29, nine days after I started therapy, I was randomly tested under our substance policies. I complied out of habit, never thinking in that moment I’d want to come back. In late April, some clubs expressed interest in me playing and after much deliberation and prayer, I decided I wanted to return. Considering myself previously retired, I had forgotten all about my test in March until I got a letter on May 3rd saying my results were positive. I was devastated and for obvious reasons did not want to proceed. At that point I knew that my decision to return to play would include a four game suspension and I immediately discussed this new development with the clubs.
“Ultimately I decided to pursue another year and on May 9 the Patriots offered me a contract in spite of these circumstances.”
Watson’s forthcoming four-game suspension means he’ll likely miss the Patriots 2019 regular season opener in Foxboro against the Steelers. Watson, who is now 38 years old, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the first-round way back in 2004. After playing his first six seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, Watson has gone on to play 9 more seasons with the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, and Baltimore Ravens. Last season and in his second stint with the Saints, Watson caught 35 total passes for 400 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Patriots are now in a bit of a bind when it comes to tight ends. After the 2018 season ended, longtime Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski decide to retire. The Patriots did, however, sign two unrestricted free agent tight ends since Gronkowski retired in Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse. They also have three other tight ends currently under contract in Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and Andrew Beck, who was signed as a rookie undrafted free agent this year.
Moving forward from the Sunday night news about Watson, it will now be interesting too see if the Patriots wind up trading for another tight end ahead of the start of the regular season. The Patriots can probably forget about claiming a quality tight end off waivers should one be cut in the coming weeks as they are last when it comes to the order.