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Patriots offered Brian Waters $4 million to return this season

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  September 19, 2012 09:42 AM

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The Patriots offered offensive lineman Brian Waters $4 million during training camp to play this season.

That's almost triple the $1.4 million base that Waters is currently under contract to make for 2012 and would make him the second-highest paid lineman on the Patriots behind Logan Mankins. The $4 million offer was made in training camp, but was not public knowledge at the time.

There's an idea out there that the Patriots are trying to nickel and dime Waters or have somehow wronged him, when in this instance they've gone well above and beyond in trying to appease a player and get him to the team.

Hence why I said this situation is on him in a tweet I sent last night.

With the Patriots releasing three players Tuesday - Greg Salas, Lex Hilliard, and Mike Rivera - and bringing back Deion Branch and signing Kellen Winslow, fans started asking on Twitter if the third spot was going to go to Waters, who has not reported to the Patriots and is on the reserve/did not report list, meaning he does not count against the 53-man roster.

As colleague Greg Bedard and I have previously reported, when Waters initially signed with New England last September, he and Bill Belichick had an agreement that Waters wouldn't have to take part in training camp or offseason work so that he could spend as much time as possible at home in Texas (he's a married father of five). That's not something that's going to be publicized because it is giving a veteran player special treatment.

But New England fully expected that Waters would show up late in training camp.

Earlier in the year, Waters and the Patriots agreed to a modified contract structure for this year that was to drop his base salary but offer per-game bonuses that would have put him at least to - and likely above - the $1.4 million base he originally signed for. The expectation was he would show up late in training camp. Waters has been durable in his career, so he likely would have earned all of the money, but New England was protected in case the 35-year old offensive lineman was injured. And a renegotiation such as that can't happen without the player agreeing to it.

Waters has not been with the Patriots since their loss in Super Bowl XLVI, after which he said he might retire. And despite the team allowing him to remain at home for as long as he needed and trying to entice him to return when he seemed hesitant to come back with a big bump in pay, he still has not reported.

Waters apparently would like to play - he just wants to play close to home, and Houston, which is a very good team and in his home state, has been floated as a possibility. But New England has dug in its heels and will not release him and allow him to sign with one of the strongest teams in the AFC, and probably isn't inclined to trade him either, certainly not to a rival or potential playoff opponent.

At this point, if Waters wants to play in 2012, he has one option: play for the Patriots.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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