The new orleans Saints fans will see a familiar sight this year, as Benjamin Watson returns to the Bayou in a marriage that will benefit both parties.

Selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the then-Super Bowl champions New England Patriots, Benjamin Watson entered the league with hopes of adding a playmaking factor to a limited aerial attack. While not quite living up to the potential that his 6-3, 251-pound frame, and plus-athleticism begat, the Georgia product did provide enough value to his team as a reliable safety valve and run-blocker to keep a spot on the notoriously turnover-happy roster until 2009.

Watson followed up with multiyear stops with the Cleveland Browns (2010 - 2012), New Orleans Saints (2013 - 2015), and the Baltimore Ravens (2016 and 2017).

While not witnessing a ton of interest in free agency, Watson ends up in perhaps the best possible scenario for a seasoned veteran on the back nine of his career, while the New Orleans Saints accomplish multiple goals by adding a familiar face to the roster.

What this means for Watson

At 37 years old, the athleticism and physicality that once defined Watson's career have been in steady decline for a while now. An Achilles injury suffered during a preseason game in 2016 doubtlessly muddies his chances at returning to peak-form even further.

However, a 2017 season which saw Watson lead the Ravens with 61 receptions and four touchdowns (tied with fellow Baltimore emigrant Mike Wallace) and finish second with 522 receiving yards (behind Wallace) shows the man still has some fuel left in the tank.

Going from a barren offense in Baltimore to a fully-stocked one in New Orleans will all but ensure Watson doesn’t receive the same volume of targets as in his past two complete seasons.

However, the attention defenses will divert to Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara mean Watson is bound to see more mismatches against lesser coverage defenders.

Returning to a system in which he’s already thrived (Watson posted his career highs of 74 receptions, 6 touchdowns, and 825 yards during his last stint in New Orleans) gives him his best chance of remaining relevant, as he has an edge on any newcomer the Saints will likely draft due to already being comfortable with the offense.

What this means for New Orleans

The Saints have been looking for a game-changing tight end arguably since Jimmy Graham left town in 2015. Watson has been by far the most productive replacement in the time since, and the opportunity to bring him back at a very team-friendly deal would have been tough to pass up for general manager Mickey Loomis.

Even in his diminished state, Watson can serve as a capable underneath target and potentially dangerous red zone threat in the hands of offensive mastermind Sean Payton, and he can still be used as a road grader in the Saints’ new pound-the-ball-and-play-strong-defense philosophy. And if it turns out that none of this is true – that Father Time has finally caught up to Watson – the Saints have lost a mere $2 million on a reclamation project that will “set back” the position for only a year.

Of course, the perks of adding Benjamin Watson extend beyond what he can do from whistle-to-whistle. In signing the tight end, the Saints also inherit an annual Walter Payton Man of the Year contestant and team captain who adds leadership and heart to a very young squad.