The crowded competition at tight end appears to have spared veteran Ben Watson.

The Patriots have released Alex Smith, who was acquired in the offseason in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick, and traded David Thomas to the New Orleans Saints, Adam Schefter reported on his Twitter page.

The Thomas deal will give the Patriots a seventh-round draft pick for Thomas, according to Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe.

The moves mean that the Patriots are sticking with 2004 first-round draft pick Benjamin Watson, who joins Chris Baker on the team's final roster. The team also reportedly acquired tight end Michael Matthews from the Giants in exchange for a conditional 2011 draft pick, Schefter also wrote.

In the preseason, Thomas caught four passes for 22 yards, while Smith had just one catch for three yards. Watson only had one catch for nine yards, but his knowledge of the Patriots' offensive system likely contributed to his staying with the team.

Matthews, 25, has just eight career catches but is known as a blocking tight end, according to Reiss.