Bill Belichick offered a simple explanation for the New England Patriots’ decision Monday to release veteran tight end Ben Watson.
“We just don’t have a roster spot,” Belichick said during an interview with WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” shortly after the team opted not to activate Watson, making him a free agent.
Asked whether the financial implications of cutting Watson — the move freed up roughly $2 million in salary cap space — played into the decision, Belichick replied: “We only have so many roster spots, so if we put somebody on, we have to take somebody off. And right now, there just wasn’t a roster spot.”
Belichick said Watson did not look different as a player upon his return from a four-game suspension. The 38-year-old participated in two of the team’s three practices last week but was not added to the roster ahead of Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Washington Redskins.
“We just didn’t feel like there was somebody we could create a roster spot with,” the coach said. “Everybody came out of (Sunday’s) game healthy. We have a decent team, so we felt like that’s where we’re at.”
The Patriots prioritized keeping three quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler) on their 53-man roster over adding a third tight end. They’ll continue to roll with Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo at the position entering Thursday night’s matchup with the New York Giants.