BOSTON (CBS) — Benjamin Watson’s second stint with the Patriots is over before the tight end could suit up for the team in a meaningful game.

New England released Watson on Monday, prior to the 4 p.m. deadline to activate him. ESPN’s Mike Reiss first reported the move.

Watson served his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy but was inactive for Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Washington Redskins. The team had a roster exemption for Watson that expired on Monday, so they had to choose whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or not. They chose the latter, saving them roughly $2 million toward the salary cap, giving them roughly $3.7 million in cap space to work with the rest of the season.

Watson, 38, practiced with the Patriots throughout training and played in two preseason games. He suffered a concussion in New England’s third preseason game and did not play in their preseason finale. He is now a free agent, and reportedly wants to continue his NFL career.

He voiced his disappointment with Monday’s news decision on Twitter:

The Patriots must feel comfortable with Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse as their tight ends going forward. Izzo caught his first career touchdown against the Redskins on Sunday, and has four receptions for 83 yards on the season. LaCosse has just one reception on four targets for 22 yards.

With a little more wiggle room under the cap, the Patriots are expected to be active ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline, likely adding a receiver to Tom Brady’s arsenal.


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