The situation with guard Brian Waters has left Patriots fans unhappy because they feel the team may have cheaped out on the Pro Bowler. Don’t think that’s necessarily fair. Here’s the timeline of what I believe transpired, through mostly reporting, and a little reading between the lines.
Waters, who didn’t have a lot of fun away from the field last season being so far away from his family, talked about needing time to figure out his future after the Super Bowl. But league sources said he was just blowing off steam and he and the Patriots were working on a deal that would increase his pay from $1.4 million. In exchange, the team requested to tie some of Waters’s pay into game-day bonuses to protect themselves in case of injury to a 35-year-old player. Waters did not have a problem with this.
The Patriots thought there was an understanding that the parameters were agreed to and Waters would sign the reworked deal when he reported. So they made no real moves to address the interior line (Robert Gallery and Dan Koppen were possible depth, not starters).
At some point, Waters had second thoughts about returning for personal — not financial — reasons. He would rather play closer to his Texas home. If that couldn’t be accommodated, he wanted more money to be away from his family.
The Patriots wouldn’t do either. Why release Waters so he can play for the Texans, who, along with the Ravens, are the main AFC competition and have a need at right guard?
And how could the Patriots justify giving a man who was allowed to skip all of training camp an even more substantial raise?
The Patriots expected Waters to follow through on his initial commitment. When he didn’t, they turned to their only option left: threatening to cut his pay through the $30,000 daily fines he accumulated through camp.
I’m guessing all can be forgiven, but only if Waters agrees to the original reworked deal.
Waters played really well last year. And, sure, the Patriots would be better with him. But people tend to forget they were prepared to go without him last year. It’s not some huge blow that he isn’t here. Dan Connolly can play right guard. But Ryan Wendell is on the spot at center.
Appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub before Sunday’s game, team president Jonathan Kraft was asked about Waters’s status.
“Well, Brian has chosen not to come in and report. He’s under contract to us and he probably is going to have to decide what is in his personal best interest,” Kraft said. “His playing rights are reserved by the Patriots. If he wants to play football it will be for the New England Patriots, and if doesn’t want to play football we are greatly appreciative of his time. He was a big part of our success last year.”