Saints reunion tour continues with addition of Benjamin Watson
Never burn bridges. Keep options open. Leave on a positive note. Never say never. Imagine the possibilities.
Hell froze over and the Eagles reunited. Axl Rose and Slash actually mended their seemingly insurmountable rift and Guns and Roses played together again. In the movies, The Blues Brothers came together for another “gig.”
In recent years, we have seen Roman Harper, Jahri Evans, Rafael Bush, Chase Daniel and Jonathan Goodwin return to the New Orleans Saints after departing for other teams.
While reunions are not common – in fact rare in the NFL – the Saints are the champions of the reunion tour in 2018.
First, there was Patrick Robinson. Jermon Bushrod followed most recently.
Now, there is the return of Ben Watson.
In the case of all three, there appears to still be gas in the tank and positive feelings on both sides. While the Saints were in the game to forge a reunion with Jimmy Graham, you never totally got the feeling that there were very positive feelings all around on both sides.
The NFL is a business. Often times, business decisions are made which result in popular players getting their feelings hurt or simply being phased out due to affordability issues.
Watson left the Saints for Baltimore and a lucrative deal. Soon after, he tore his Achilles tendon and missed the entire 2016 season coming off of an outstanding season for the Saints. While no one could replace Graham, who was perhaps the best receiving tight end in the league when he departed New Orleans, Watson did a superb job, catching 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns.
The concern about Watson is his age (37).
Those who know Watson understand that he, like Drew Brees, defies age.
Watson works as hard as anyone. He is a true professional and a dogged competitor. He rebounded from the debilitating injury a year ago to catch 61 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns. He caught 77.2 percent of the passes that were thrown at him, a career best.
Watson played in all 16 games, displaying that he was fully back from the injury. He is not a deep threat but he can run routes correctly, catch the football and is a willing, capable blocker, an important element in the revamped Saints offense which focuses more on pounding the rock.
Like Harper, it could be just a one year proposition. Unlike Harper upon his return, Watson still has much of the skill he displayed when with New Orleans the first go-round. Bush was brought back to provide depth at safety and was never counted on as a primary player. Evans, a future Saints Hall of Fame inductee to be certain, filled a need for one year. Daniel was a one-year rental to provide insurance for Drew Brees.
Watson’s acquisition likely allows the Saints to focus on wide receiver and defensive end, the other two glaring needs, in the draft. Sean Payton stated in Orlando that tight end, along with wide receiver and defensive end, are the team’s biggest needs to address.
Then, there is the other value Watson brings to the Saints.
He is a natural born leader, a man of character, principle and faith who has a terrific perspective on life and social issues as a devoted family man. Watson fits the profile of the organization over the last three years, purging itself of players with off the field issues and clubhouse lawyers while stocking it with hard working individuals who play the game right and play the game of life straight.
Robinson is being counted on as a primary contributor and starter at cornerback and he is coming off of his best season in the league. Bushrod is being counted on in reserve, as an insurance policy. With the oft-injured Terron Armstead and the loss of Senio Kelemete, Bushrod was a good acquisition as well.
If the reunion goes well, the Saints could be singing the words of Peaches and Herb: “Reunited and it feels so good, proving the Neil Sedaka claim that “breaking up is hard to do.” The Saints are putting the band back together in the hope of leaving other teams singing the blues.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…