Why Did Patriots Release Ben Watson? Bill Belichick Has Simple Explanation

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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.

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard, tight end Evan Engram
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