Ravens Outbid Saints For Benjamin Watson


Often, it seems the Ravens are the team in free agency who sees other general managers outbid them. Look at Kelechi Osemele's whopping $60 million deal with the Raiders as the most recent evidence.

Well, the Ravens flipped the tables when it came to tight end Benjamin Watson, showing just how much they wanted the veteran.

Baltimore outbid New Orleans, who tried to retain Watson's services after his monster 74-catch, 825-yard, six-touchdown 2015 season.

"We wanted to keep him," Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said last week at the NFL owners meetings.

"It was price point. And hey, that's to Baltimore's credit. We were looking closely at a certain amount, and as that rose a little bit north of where we were comfortable, then you're happy for the player."

The Ravens gave Watson a two-year deal reportedly worth $8 million.

Baltimore is hoping that the 35-year-old veteran shows more of the same from last year. It's a good sign that the Saints were actively trying to bring him back, because it means a team that was very familiar with him thinks he has more left in the tank.

"A very reliable player," Payton said. "He blocks well. He catches well. As a tight end, he does a lot of things well."

Payton gushed about Watson when speaking to the assembled media. With Watson, it's more than just being a good player between the lines. He brings many more intangibles.

"You talk about the person before the player, and they're getting one of the best guys you'd ever want to be around," Payton said. "Great team leader. Really good family. You check off every box. Real personable. I would say he's available from player one to 53, anytime they needed help."

Payton relayed a story about Watson from Christmas Eve. It was about 8:30 p.m. when Payton heard a noise coming down the hall. And, no, it wasn't Santa Claus. Watson and his wife and children had a big grocery cart of Bibles and they were stopping at each coach's office and then to the players' locker room to hand them out.

"Obviously he's a strong Christian, good family man," Payton said.

While at the owners meetings, Head Coach John Harbaugh shared a little more insight on the addition of Watson, calling him "the total package" of leader, role model and player. Harbaugh expects Watson to make plays on third down and in the red zone.

Watson joins a young and talented tight end corps featuring Crockett Gillmore (offseason shoulder surgery), Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle (suspended for the first 10 games). It's unclear who will be the starter when all are available.

"These local [reporters], our [reporters] know that No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, I've never gotten into all that because I think you use your players to their strengths," Harbaugh said. "But if you want to call [Watson] No. 1, absolutely."

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