The Patriots have released offensive lineman Brian Waters, according to the NFL transaction wire Tuesday.
Signed to a two-year contract after the lockout in 2011, Waters played at a very high level that year, though he was at right guard for the first time in his career. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl.
Married with five children, Waters typically did not take part in the offseason program when he played for Kansas City, opting to spend as much time as possible with his family. It was the same in New England – when the Patriots began their OTAs and mandatory minicamp last offseason, coach Bill Belichick said that Waters was excused from participating.
But when training camp started, Waters still did not report to the team. The Patriots placed him on the reserve/did not report list, though they tried to entice him to return by offering to increase his salary from $2.5 million for 2012 to $4 million.
The first sign that the Patriots were fed up with Waters’s behavior came on the eve of the regular season when the team gave then-rookie Dont’a Hightower jersey No. 54, which Waters had worn the season before. A few days later, Waters’s nameplate was removed from his locker.
Without Waters, the Patriots had to change their plans for the offensive line last year. Dan Connolly, who was likely to have been the starting center, was moved to right guard and Ryan Wendell became the starting center.
Though Waters might have played for a team in Texas, close to his home and his family, the Patriots refused to release Waters from his contract. Since he spent the entire season on the reserve/did not report list, his contract tolled, and he remained under contract with the Patriots for 2013.
At the NFL Players Association’s annual meeting at the Super Bowl in February, Waters was approached about giving his side of the story, but he declined to comment. He was not in game shape.
So his time with New England, which started off so well, has ended with a single line on the league transaction wire.