The New England Patriots’ projected starting tight end won’t be with the team until Week 5.

Ben Watson announced Sunday that he has been suspended for the first four games of the season after testing positive for a drug called Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate. Watson, 38, announced the news on his social media platforms, explaining that he started to take the banned substance after retiring from football this offseason to help his body heal.

Watson, however, decided to return to football at the end of April. He received notice of the suspension on May 3, six days before he signed a one-year deal with the Patriots. The tight end said the Patriots were aware of his situation.

Watson was open and honest on Sunday as he explained the situation in a lengthy post on Facebook and Twitter.

“As the days and weeks of the 2018 football season passed, I was certain that it would be my last. Injuries and health concerns, including a random bout with appendicitis the last week of the season confirmed my decision, and as I walked off the field for my last time, I had no plans to return,” Watson wrote. “Over the following months, I started actively pursuing other career opportunities. After every season during my playing career, I visit with a few doctors for health screenings. During these times we identify the cumulative effects of injuries, stressors, and exertion on my health and formulate an offseason plan for recovery. As a professional athlete for the last 15 years I know very well the limitations on what can be prescribed for my overall health. After my contract expired last March I told my doctors I was finished playing, went through a series of medical tests and was prescribed Bio Identical Testosterone Cypionate to assist in healing my body and mind.

“On March 29, nine days after I started therapy, I was randomly tested under our substance policies. I complied out of habit, never thinking in that moment I’d want to come back. In late April, some clubs expressed interest in me playing and after much deliberation and prayer, I decided I wanted to return. Considering myself previously retired, I had forgotten all about my test in March until I got a letter on May 3rd saying my results were positive. I was devastated and for obvious reasons did not want to proceed. At that point I knew that my decision to return to play would include a four game suspension and I immediately discussed this new development with the clubs.

“Ultimately I decided to pursue another year and on May 9 the Patriots offered me a contract in spite of these circumstances. I am excited and thankful to return to New England but very disappointed that I will not be able to play and contribute immediately. This is not how I would want to enter a new locker room and attempt to earn my role on a new team. However, I respect the regulations that have been collectively bargained to promote fairness on the field of play and accept the discipline associated with my infraction. My goals as an athlete, teammate, friend, father, husband and believer have not changed. To live a life of integrity and humility while standing for kindness, justice and righteousness and to serve the people in the cities, regions and organizations that God places me in. Until my last day I will continue to pursue excellence in my craft and perform to the best of my ability. I am grateful for yet another opportunity to do so in the NFL.”

With Rob Gronkowski retired, Watson was expected to become the Patriots’ starting tight end. The other tight ends on the roster are Matt LaCosse, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson and Andrew Beck.

Watson started his NFL career with the Patriots in 2004 but left after the 2009 season. He has since played for four other teams, including a second stint with the Saints in 2018.

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