One question for the New England Patriots during the 2012 offseason has been whether or not veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters would return or retire. Waters is under contract with the Patriots for the coming season but following the team’s Super Bowl loss the 13-year veteran said he’d take the offseason to make his decision. With his decision still undecided, one of this week’s NFL rumors is that he’s leaning toward retirement.
Waters has had a very successful NFL career after going undrafted in the 1999 NFL Draft. After signing with the Dallas Cowboys in 1999, he made his NFL debut in 2000 with the Kansas City Chiefs where he was a regular for eleven seasons. Following the 2010 season, Waters was released from the Chiefs and in September signed with the Patriots where he started every game at right guard and gave a performance worthy of a Pro Bowl selection. Waters has been selected to six Pro Bowls in his career and been named an All-Pro twice. The 2011 season also saw Waters win the first playoff game of his career as he helped the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLVI.
With a Pro Bowl season in 2011 and with the Patriots seemingly on the brink of winning another Super Bowl, many expect Waters to return. However, Waters has yet to be seen with his team. First he missed the organized team activities and then was excused from mandatory minicamp. On Wednesday he was listed as “Did Not Report” on the day veterans were to report for training camp.
Some have suggested that the reason Waters has yet to announce a decision is because the Patriots are allowing him to report at a later date. However, that seems rather unlikely. Offensive tackle Matt Light retired this offseason and offensive guard Logan Mankins is returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament which makes him an uncertainty. The Patriots have already made a new signing in Robert Gallery and moved Dan Connolly back to right guard which means the team needs as many of their key lineman in camp as quickly as possible making another excused absence unlikely.
Brian Waters has had a fantastic career and could retire a well-respected offensive lineman. But even with the Pro Bowls and All-Pro selections there is still one thing missing, a Super Bowl ring. So while it seems as though Waters may be leaning toward retirement, he may well return in an attempt to claim the one thing he’s missing.