Watson came out of retirement and signed a deal in New England, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the situation. The team later made the news official.
The 38-year-old Watson spent the 2018 season with the New Orleans Saints on a one-year deal. He announced his retirement in late December before this current development.
The signing reunites Watson with head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots originally selected Watson as a first-round pick in the 2004 draft and he played six seasons in New England before leaving after the 2009 season to join the Cleveland Browns. Watson played three seasons (2010-12) in Cleveland before his first stint with the Saints (2013-15). He then joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2016 for two seasons before returning to New Orleans last year.
Adding Watson makes sense given the Patriots have a need at the tight end position in the wake of Rob Gronkowski's retirement.
While Watson won't come close to matching Gronkowski's lost production, he provides a veteran presence and depth for the tight end group.
On his career, Watson has appeared in 195 games with 135 starts, totaling 530 catches for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns.