The Ravens may take a patient approach with Watson, who missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles in the preseason, ESPN.com reports. Coming off a breakout 2015 season, Watson joined the Ravens on a two-year, $7 million contract and was set to open 2016 as the leader of a deep tight end corps. Despite the re-emergence of Dennis Pitta atop a still-crowded depth chart, Watson's reasonable contract could persuade the Ravens to give him another shot, assuming the 36-year-old is healthy in time for training camp. Given his age and lengthy rehab process, Watson may be gunning for more of a committee role, whereas last year he had a shot at a near every-down job. It's also quite possible the Ravens will release him or ask him to accept a pay cut -- though the same can be said for Pitta.
Watson suffered a torn Achilles on the first snap of Saturday's preseason game against the Lions. Signed to a two-year, $7 million contract in the offseason, the 36-year-old Watson was locked in as Baltimore's starting tight end. The only good news for the team is that it boasts strong depth at the position, though Maxx Williams (undisclosed) and Dennis Pitta (finger) are nursing injuries of their own, with neither available for Saturday's exhibition. Crockett Gillmore, the starter for most of last season, figures to get the majority of first-team snaps in Saturday's game. Gillmore could take on a lot of Watson's planned workload in the regular season, as he's a much better blocker than Williams or Pitta. Watson will miss the entire season.
Watson and the Ravens have agreed in principle to a deal, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports. This doesn't seem like a good fit at first glance, as the Ravens used a third-round pick in the 2014 draft on Crockett Gillmore (back/shoulder), then selected Maxx Williams in the second round last season. However, Gillmore needs multiple surgeries this offseason and is likely looking at a prolonged timetable, and Williams didn't impress as a rookie. Known primarily for his blocking ability throughout a lengthy career, the 35-year-old Watson matched or surpassed his career-best receiving marks in every major category in 2015, finishing with a shocking 74-825-6 receiving line on 109 targets. Even if Gillmore in't ready by Week 1, Watson will be a long shot to approach those numbers now that he isn't serving as Drew Brees' primary tight end.
Watson was targeted 10 times during Sunday's win over the Falcons, collecting six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. "Can't repeat the past," Jay Gatsby, and maybe Ben Watson, cried out incredulously. "Why of course you can!" Unlike The Great Gatsby, Watson was not only able to return to his past self, he improved upon it. At age 35, Watson set or tied career highs in targets, catches, yards and touchdowns in 2015. He finished the season having been targeted eight or more times in five of the Saints' last six games. With this level of production, it wouldn't be a total surprise if New Orleans resigned Watson to a short-term deal as the roster lacks an obvious successor. Josh Hill, a fantasy sleeper to start the year, managed just 16 catches in backup duty.
Watson (knee) caught one of two targets for five yards in Sunday's 38-27 win over the Jaguars. It's a disappointing stat line for Watson, especially considering that Drew Brees passes for 412 yards and three scores Sunday. Most of Brees' production went to Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Travaris Cadet, although backup TE Michael Hoomanawanui caught a touchdown in the first quarter. We'll have to check on Watson's snap count, but it's reasonable to assume he didn't play as much as usual with his knee injury (he missed a lot of practice time during the week). Assuming he's healthy enough to play next week, he'll have a decent matchup against the Falcons.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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|3 Year Avg||57||38||396||3||22||10.42||57|