The New England Patriots released tight end Ben Watson earlier this week.

On the surface, it seemed like a relatively minor move. Watson, 38, came out of retirement to join the Patriots before serving a four-game suspension, and his presence didn’t figure to make or break New England’s offense this season. Still, the Patriots might feel Watson’s departure, especially in the locker room.

Tom Brady acknowledged Tuesday that he’ll miss Watson, a longtime friend who spent his first six seasons in New England from 2004 through 2009. And Cris Carter can’t help but wonder whether it’s because the 42-year-old quarterback can relate to Watson on a different level than most of his Patriots teammates.

“Tom Brady, with the fullness he has in life, he needs some other outlets besides these kids,” Carter said Wednesday on FS1’s “First Things First.” “Last month, he was talking to Josh Gordon and (Antonio Brown). Trust me, they don’t have a lot in common besides playing football. So you do need some veteran guys, some guys who have life experience, around Tom. I’m sure Tom is missing Ben Watson being in the locker room and missing his overall opinion on life.”

Watson, who spent last season with the New Orleans Saints, reportedly wants to keep playing, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick left the door open for a potential return when addressing the tight end’s release. So perhaps the 14-year veteran eventually will find his way back to Foxboro, which probably would make Brady happy given the less-than-glowing review the QB gave Tuesday of New England’s younger tight ends.

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images