The Cleveland Browns today signed tight end Benjamin Watson to a multi-year contract as an unrestricted free agent from the New England Patriots, where he had spent each of his first six NFL seasons (2004-09).
"We viewed Ben as one of the top all-around tight ends in the free agent market," said Browns General Manager Tom Heckert. "Because of his athleticism and intelligence, he has proven valuable as both a receiver and blocker during his career, and has performed well in both facets. He comes from a winning program in New England and possesses the traits that we like in a player. We feel as though he can help us in many different areas and we are excited about his addition to our team."
Originally a first-round draft choice of the Patriots in 2004 (32nd overall), the 6-3, 255-pound Watson has appeared in 71 regular season games in his career, including 47 starts. During that time he has caught 167 passes for 2,102 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also has played in nine playoff contests, starting seven of them, and tallied 19 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns.
He turned in his most productive season in 2006 when he hauled in 49 passes for 643 yards and three touchdowns. He accounted for a career-high six touchdown catches the following year, when he totaled 36 receptions for 389 yards. He turned in the lone 100-yard receiving game of his career in 2007, in a matchup against the Browns on October 7 at Gillette Stadium when he had six receptions for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Last year with New England, Watson played in all 16 games with seven starts and caught 29 passes for 404 yards and five scores.
The 29-year-old Watson began his collegiate career at Duke where he played in 1999 prior to transferring to Georgia. In three years with the Bulldogs (2001-03), he totaled 65 receptions for 852 yards and six touchdowns. Born December 18, 1980, Watson, attended Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, S.C.