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Patriots’ Benjamin Watson says Rob Gronkowski retiring had no impact on NFL return

Rob Gronkowski Benjamin Watson

New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson didn’t return to the team because of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.

Watson drove that point home in an interview with NBC Sports Boston (via Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper) on May 23.

Watson was asked whether Rob Gronkowski calling it a career inspired him to end his return to action for a Patriots team that found itself with a sizeable hole at the position.

‘No, I was retired. I consider myself retired,’ Watson said, via NBCSportsBoston.com. ‘I was processing as such and moving forward as such until late in April. That wasn’t a factor for me.’

Watson spent the first years of his career in New England and he spent last year in New Orleans. He said that the Patriots and (New Orleans) Saints were the only two teams he considered playing for when he got the itch to play again and called the chance in New England ‘an interesting opportunity.’

When Watson retired, he told NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss he considered going into broadcasting or player development. However, he decided to give playing in the NFL another shot. Now, he’s back with the Patriots.

The 38-year-old Watson returns to New England after 10 years. The Patriots made him the 32nd overall selection of the 2004 NFL Draft. In his first six seasons with the Patriots, he caught for 2,102 yards and 2o touchdowns on 227 receptions.

Watson won a Super Bowl ring in his rookie year in New England. Can he win his second one with the Patriots next February? If he does, his comeback was worth it.