The New England Patriots are expected to re-sign the 38-year-old tight end after releasing him a week ago, ESPN's Field Yates reported Monday. He had tested positive for a banned substance, resulting in a four-game suspension, before the Patriots agreed not to keep it, at least temporarily.
His return comes after fullback Jakob Johnson (shoulder) and tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) were knocked out of Thursday's win over the New York Giants. The only other tight end on the Patriots roster is Ryan Izzo, a seventh-round pick past year. It's not yet known if LaCosse will miss time, or how much time he will miss, but Watson's return will certainly complement the tight end position that also features Ryan Izzo.
Since Rob Gronkowski's retirement, New England needs help with the job. Once activated off the suspension list, New England waived Watson.
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Watson spent training camp with the Patriots and has experience in their system.
It would be unrealistic to expect Watson to have the explosion or power he once did, but he was still reasonably effective for the Saints previous year when he had 400 receiving yards and two touchdowns while catching 76 percent of his targets.
If Matt LaCosse is unable to stay healthy consistently, New England still may find themselves in a situation where they trade for another young tight end.