Ben Watson thinks the door is still open with the Patriots

Who’s responsible for the Patriots’ rushing performances?
Nora Princiotti and Ben Volin debate who's responsible for the Patriots' rushing performances. (Produced by Lucie McCormick for the Boston Globe)

Following his release from the Patriots, tight end Benjamin Watson said quarterback Tom Brady’s supportive comments “meant a lot” to him.

“I love that guy, seriously,” Watson said in a radio interview with WEEI Wednesday afternoon. “It meant a whole lot to me to hear him say that publicly.”

In a press conference the day after Watson’s release, Brady lamented the personnel move and spoke highly of his former teammate. Watson said he later texted Brady to thank him for the kind words.

“No matter how this plays out moving forward, one of the things I’ll cherish is sitting beside [Tom] every day during training camp,” Watson said. “Sitting there, talking about our families and life, so much has changed in a decade. We both have been married for years now, we both have gray hair. We can sit there and talk about things we probably couldn’t talk about 10 years ago.”

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The pair were neighbors in the locker room, and had played together for six seasons during Watson’s first stint with the Patriots. Watson said Wednesday part of the reason why he came out of retirement was the opportunity to play with Brady again.

But the reunion never materialized in a regular-season game setting. Watson was suspended for the first four contests of the season because of a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs and, once eligible, he was not activated to the 53-man roster. The 38-year-old veteran said he thought “something was up” when he remained inactive the Monday following the conclusion of his suspension.

“I’m definitely disappointed,” Watson said. “I’m definitely sad about the situation.”

Watson said Belichick’s rationale for the move was the same reasoning given to the media: The team didn’t have an available roster spot. He doesn’t know if his contract — the Patriots created about $2 million in cap space by cutting him — or other factors played a role in the decision. Watson expressed gratitude that Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio delivered the news firsthand.


“I appreciate the fact that they didn’t send somebody to tell me,” he said. “I didn’t have to find out on Twitter. I appreciate the fact they sat me down.”

As for what’s next? Watson said he is still processing his release and assessing his options moving forward. He hasn’t made a decision about his playing future but seemed to think the door was still open in New England.

“Any organization never totally moves on from a player,” he said. “What [Belichick] told me is that he doesn’t have a roster spot right now. That doesn’t me he won’t tomorrow, or maybe he won’t at all. I really think it becomes a need basis.”

If the Patriots are not a possibility, Watson is interested in playing — but only for certain organizations that will make sense for his family. For now, he is going to remain living locally with his wife and seven kids.

“This was an opportunity, and I went for it,” he said. “Sometimes it turns out the way you want it, sometimes it doesn’t.”