Ben Watson played through serious pain in what likely was his final NFL season. 

The veteran tight end revealed Friday he suffered a torn Achilles while playing for the New England Patriots in 2019. Watson, who turned 39 in December, thanked the TB12 Sports Therapy Center for helping him remain active and available despite his injury.  

“Tore my ‘good’ Achilles this season,” Watson wrote in an Instagram story, “but (TB12 trainer Joseph Koudelka) kept me on the field! A million thanks!”

Watson was suspended for New England’s first four games this season following a positive PED test. After that suspension concluded, the team surprisingly released him for what head coach Bill Belichick called roster management reasons.

The Patriots reversed course and re-signed Watson one week later, and he proceeded to play in each of the team’s final 11 games. He averaged 44.9 offensive snaps per game, was a full participant in every practice and never appeared on New England’s injury report.

Watson led all Patriots tight ends with 17 catches for 173 yards during the regular season despite not making his debut until Week 7, then had arguably his best game of the season in New England’s lone playoff game, catching three passes on four targets for 38 yards and having another 38-yard catch wiped away by a penalty during the team’s wild-card round loss to the Tennessee Titans.

After that game, Watson, whose one-year Patriots contract expires in March, said he likely will retire this offseason.

“I love this game, but there is a time when you definitely have to move on,” he said. “I definitely won’t be back here next year, probably, and I probably won’t be playing at all. (Retirement) is something that I’ve tried to do before, and it didn’t work, but there’s only so much your body can take and only so much you want to put your family through before you want to settle down and have some roots and figure out what the next chapter of your life is going to be.

“So we’re going to talk about it, of course. We make family decisions. But it’s been a great run, and it’s been really special to be back here, especially to have the opportunity to play.”

Improving their tight end group must be an offseason priority for the Patriots, who currently have just Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo under contract for 2020.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images