Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson has caught passes from Tom Brady and Drew Brees. And about 10 minutes before his official introduction Thursday, Watson had a chance to meet Joe Flacco, the latest quarterback who will be throwing him the ball.
"Having watched him, obviously win that Super Bowl, he's definitely one of the elite quarterbacks," Watson said. "I can tell my grandkids that I played with Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Flacco will definitely be added to that list. In order to win in this league, you have to have a quarterback who can make all the throws, who makes great decisions, somebody who can get you out of bad situations, that just gives you a chance. When you are a free agent, like I was, it definitely makes a big difference when you know there's stability at the quarterback position."
Along with getting the opportunity to play with another Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Watson rattled off several reasons why he opted to sign a two-year deal worth as much as $8 million with the Ravens.
He was born in Norfolk, Va., and said that he has family in the Virginia-Maryland area. He also said that he has long respected how the Ravens go about things from his days regularly competing against them. Watson, 35, spent his first six NFL seasons with the New England Patriots before playing the following three years with the Cleveland Browns.
"To have stability at head coach, to have stability in management and also in ownership, this is a great opportunity to be part of a winning tradition," Watson said. "Having played against the Ravens for the last 12 years, and having to face those defenses, my mom actually sent me a text one time. We were about to play the Ravens. She's like, 'Watch out for those guys.' She warned me the night before we went out there and played against the Ravens. There are certain teams in the NFL that have a certain aura about them and there's a certain respect level about them."
Watson is coming off a 2016 season with the New Orleans Saints in which he caught a career-high 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns.
"If you look at his production on the field last year, it was unbelievable," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "The amount of catches, the touchdowns, a guy that played over 90 percent of the snaps. I think that the coaches and the personnel, as we started to look at tight ends who could become available, I think both sides in the building believed that Ben would be someone that we would love to have."
Newsome said that he watched tape of eight different free-agent tight ends. Watson was the second-last tight end that he watched, but it became clear that he was the best fit just 10 plays into the tape.
"I already knew about the intangibles, but to see him and how productive he was on the field, I knew that was the guy that we should target," Newsome said.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh called Watson the perfect fit for what the team wants to do offensively.
"We are a balanced offense. He's a run blocker. He's very productive in the passing game. He can run all the routes. He makes plays in both areas. He makes third-down conversions," Harbaugh said. "Every type of offense that he's played in, he's been productive as a pass catcher and as a blocker. He's a complete player. He just really understands how to take care of himself, how to work hard. That's going to translate to the rest of our team and the kind of person he is in the community. I just feel like the Baltimore community is really going to benefit from having Ben Watson be a part of us."