METIAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints veteran tight end Ben Watson announced on Thursday that he’s retiring after this season.
Watson turned 38 this month and is in his 14th NFL season out of Georgia.
“I knew coming into this year that it probably would be the last year,” Watson said. “Our approach was as a family we were fortunate to come and play for another year, but you kind of know. You hope you get to exit on your own terms.
“You hope you get to exit with a great win. And it’s been great to be a part of this team and have this sort of winning at this point of my career.”
His initial announcement came through an NFL Films video about his family that was posted on Thursday. Watson also confirmed his decision with reporters after Thursday’s practice.
“The injuries add up, the body struggles more and more. And it becomes evident that it’s time,” Watson said. “It’s always a very hard thing.”
The former 2004 New England Patriots first-round pick has caught 33 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns this season, helping the Saints capture the top playoff seed in the NFC.
After one of his touchdowns, Watson, a father of five, celebrated by holding up seven fingers, signaling that twins were on the way.
Watson began his NFL career with New England in 2004 and also has played for Cleveland and Baltimore. He has 5,856 yards and 44 TDs receiving in his career.
But Watson said he hoped his legacy as a player would be more about the way he has conducted himself on and off the field.
“I want my legacy to be somebody who loved his wife and somebody who loved his kids and tried to lead his family, and encouraged other guys that they have what it takes to be the men that they’re called to be,” the tight end said.
“And I want to be somebody that was reliable, that a coach could count on. A guy that when you put him out there, he did his job, whether it was with flash or without flash, he could be reliable and dependable on the field.”