Ravens' tight end Benjamin Watson accepts the 2017 Ed Block Courage Award. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun video)
Tight end Benjamin Watson ultimately chose to sign with the Ravens in 2016 despite interest from the New Orleans Saints in retaining him.
Two years later, Watson is returning to the Saints, for whom he had his best NFL season in 2015. Watson will sign a one-year deal with New Orleans after he led the Ravens in receptions in 2017.
The deal was first reported by ESPN.
Watson, who acknowledged earlier this offseason that he was considering retirement, opted to return for his 15th NFL season. He becomes the third Ravens unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere. Center Ryan Jensen agreed to a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while wide receiver Mike Wallace has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Ravens are looking to add a pass-catching tight end to complement Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams. However, they never displayed significant interest in re-signing Watson because they’re looking to get younger at the position
Watson, 37, signed a two-year deal with the Ravens in 2016, but he was sidelined for his entire first season with the team after tearing his Achilles tendon during the preseason.
The 2017 season, though, was a memorable one for Watson. He returned from the injury to lead the Ravens in receptions at the age of 37. His 61 receptions were nine more than any other Raven had. His 522 receiving yards trailed only Wallace’s 748. Watson and Wallace also finished tied for the team lead with four touchdown receptions.
Watson has 495 career catches for 5,485 yards and 42 touchdowns in 179 regular-season games. He played for the Saints from 2013 to 2015 and caught 74 balls for 825 yards and six touchdowns in his final season in New Orleans.