Benjamin Watson<span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span> is returning to a familiar place to continue his NFL career.
The 37-year-old reached a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, ending his two-year run in Baltimore. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported the news and Watson tweeted a photo of him in a Saints hat Wednesday afternoon.
Watson is heading into his 15th NFL season, and signing with the Saints is a return to the team where he enjoyed some of his most productive years. His best career season came in 2015 when he caught 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns in New Orleans.
Watson is coming off a solid season with Baltimore where he played well after recovering from a torn Achilles that cost him the entire 2016 campaign. He played in all 16 games last year and caught a team-high 61 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns.
Beyond what he brought to the field, Watson was a valued member of Baltimore’s locker room. He is active in community work and humanitarian causes, and is a respected voice on social issues. Watson received multiple community awards over the last year, and was one of the league’s finalists for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Watson’s departure leaves the Ravens with a need for a pass-catching tight end. The Ravens came into this offseason intent on overhauling their passing game, and they have been pursuing tight ends even before Watson departed.
Baltimore’s only tight ends currently on the roster are Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, who are both better suited as blockers.
Losing Watson puts the Ravens in position to receive another compensatory pick next year. They have now lost Watson, wide receiver Mike Wallace and center Ryan Jensen in free agency, and Jensen’s massive deal will likely amount to a third or fourth-round compensatory pick as long as he stays healthy.