After playing for the New Orleans Saints last season, tight end Benjamin Watson announced his retirement from the NFL after a 15-year playing career. However, Watson changed his mind and signed with the New England Patriots, who drafted him 32nd overall in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Watson was pegged as a replacement for Rob Gronkowski, who recently announced his retirement after a nine-year career with the Patriots.

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However, Watson surprised everyone when he announced that he will be suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season after he tested positive for Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate.

In a lengthy Facebook post, the 38-year-old Watson explained his predicament, saying he was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate to help his body heal following a long career. By the time he was considering returning to the NFL, Watson received a letter from the NFL indicating that he has been tested positive.

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During his past interviews with different teams, Watson informed them that he will be facing a four-game suspension to begin the 2019 season. When the Patriots signed Watson to a one-year contract reportedly worth $3 million, the team was aware that it will not have the veteran tight end for four games. Despite the suspension, Watson can still join the Patriots’ training camp and preseason games, but he cannot enter the facility once the regular season begins. He is eligible to return on October 6 when the Patriots take on the Redskins.

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Austin Seferian-Jenkins to emerge as main tight end

With Watson’s absence, Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com said the Patriots will have to turn to Austin Seferian-Jenkins as their main tight end, in case they don’t sign anyone from the free-agent market or make a trade before the season begins. Seferian-Jenkins, who played with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, signed a veteran’s minimum contract with the Patriots, with a signing bonus of $50,000 and additional incentives worth $40,000.

The Patriots also have Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and undrafted rookie Andrew Beck as tight ends, but they could only keep one more in anticipation of Watson’s return in Week 5. According to Hannable, the Patriots could also add another tight end in Kyle Rudolph via trade with the Minnesota Vikings. Reports have it that Rudolph and the Vikings are close to agreeing to a five-year contract extension, but anything could happen until the tight end signs his contract.

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Wideout Chris Hogan thanks Patriots

Wide receiver Chris Hogan recently signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers reportedly worth $2 million after a three-year stint with the Patriots. In an interview with Mike Reiss of ESPN, Hogan insisted that he has no hard feelings towards the Patriots for not signing him, fully aware that it’s a business decision. Hogan also thanked the Patriots for giving him the opportunity to play alongside Tom Brady, whom he called one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, and to be coached by Bill Belichick.

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"I made a lot of friendships there, which I think will last the rest of my life," said Hogan, who tallied 1,651 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in three years with the Patriots. Hogan became expendable after the Patriots selected N’Keal Harry with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

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