The short version is veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters isn’t back in New England, and no one knows when or if he will be.
The long version, as explained at length by Greg Bedard and Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, is a complicated saga of money, family time and competitive edge.
This week, the Patriots took Waters’ nameplate off his locker, and gave his jersey Number 54 to to rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower. But Waters remains on the reserve/did not report list, meaning they could collect $30,000 per day fines off his $1.4 million base salary when or if he comes back.
There seems to be a sense that coach Bill Belichick was fine with Waters staying away in the offseason and training camp, back home with his family in Texas. And there was also a sense they were going to adjust his contract to the veteran minimum, plus bonuses for each week he was on the active roster.
But they thought he’d be here by now, complicating their desire to re-do his deal, at least to anything he’d agree to.
While a trade is a possibility, Waters doesn’t have a motivation to relocate if it’s not back home to Texas, and the Patriots aren’t likely to strengthen the Texans by sending a talented blocker to a team that needs help at the position.
Bedard and Young suggest this stalemate isn’t about money, or at least it wasn’t to begin with. All that’s certain at the moment is the Patriots are lacking a part they could use.