Cowboys add Pro Bowler Brian Waters to offensive line
The two parties had been dancing around a deal since July, but negotiations were supposedly suspended in mid-August when Cowboys executive vice president/COO Stephen Jones said the team had “moved on” from pursuing Waters at this point, though he “wouldn’t rule anything out” yet.
The Cowboys made it an offseason priority to get more physical up front, demonstrated by their drafting of center Travis Fredrick in the first-round of this April. The team also wanted to protect quarterback Tony Romo, after he was sacked a career-high 36 times in each of the past two seasons. To satisfy the glaring need for stability on the interior of the offensive line, the Cowboys had made Brian Waters their primary target this offseason. But they also brought veteran guard Brandon Moore into the mix, to drive Waters’ price down. However, Waters did not budge and the Cowboys ended up signing Moore to a one-year, $2 million deal only to have him announce his retirement only 12 hours later.
The Cowboys’ offensive line issues remained unresolved as the recent experiment with Doug Free at guard clearly showcases that the Cowboys’ never settled with an option at the position. Nate Livings is lost for the season while Ronald Leary –coming off minor knee injury – remains questionable for Sunday’s regular season opener against the New York Giants. Mackenzy Bernadeau also remains a questionable starter, based on his performance so far. Waters’ conditioning level could be a factor to exactly when he will be able to push Bernadeau for snaps at guard, while Free reverts to a role on the outside as offensive tackle. Leary is likely to remain at left guard given the praise he received from Cowboys’ “brain-trust” for his ability.
However, given that Waters’ sat out last season and didn’t attend training camp, as well as his lack of familiarity with the other members of Cowboys’ offensive line and coach Jason Garrett’s offense, he is unlikely to play for extended minutes on Sunday night.
The six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection last played for the New England Patriots in 2011, after signing right before the regular season and yet starting all 16 games at right that year. The 36-year-old Waters also spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs, starting a combined 149 of 163 games for the team.