Patriots add Watson, Tomlinson to TE rotation

Field Level Media

October 15, 2019 at 10:21 pm.

The New England Patriots’ post-Rob Gronkowski era continued with the additions of tight ends Eric Tomlinson and Ben Watson, the team announced Tuesday.

The re-signing of the veteran Watson to the 53-man roster was reported by multiple outlets Monday.

Tomlinson, whose NFL career began as rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 out of Texas El Paso, has also played for the New York Jets and Giants. In three seasons with the Jets (2016-18), he had 16 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown in 36 games (29 starts).

Claimed off waivers this season by the Giants on Sept. 1, Tomlinson, 27, played seven offensive snaps in three games for them before being released on Sept. 24.

In other corresponding moves, the Patriots cut quarterback Cody Kessler; signed offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier and wide receiveer Devin Ross to the practice squad; and released kicker Younghoe Koo and tight end Jason Vander Laan from the practice squad.

Watson, 38, was in camp with the Patriots but did not play in a game and was released last week after serving a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.

Coach Bill Belichick originally said there wasn’t room on the roster for Watson after his ban ended, but injuries to tight end Matt LaCosse and fullback Jakob Johnson in Thursday’s win over the Giants changed the team’s needs and created roster space.

The Patriots placed Johnson on injured reserve Monday because of a shoulder injury, while LaCosse is expected to miss a few weeks with a sprained MCL.

Watson, a 16-year NFL veteran, has 530 career receptions for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns. Last season in New Orleans, he had 35 catches for 400 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games (four starts).

Kessler, who signed with New England on Sept. 25, was a third-round choice of the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,215 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions in his career.

Rookie seventh-round pick Ryan Izzo, 23, was the only healthy tight end on the roster before this week’s additions.