He’s a local product who developed into a five-time Pro Bowl guard, still has some tread on his tires and was looking for a new team. The Cowboys needed interior offensive line help.
But the Cowboys didn’t target Waters, the Waxahachie native and North Texas alum. They’ll see him Sunday when they meet the Patriots, who signed Waters to a two-year deal for $3.5 million plus incentives on the same day the Cowboys inked Derrick Dockery to one-year contract for $810,000 plus incentives.
“He’s been so good for so long, a Pro Bowl player for a lot of years,” Jason Garrett said of Waters. “He’s somebody we certainly talked about. We talked about a lot of different guys. It seems like he’s settled into a role up there that’s helping their football team. He looks like the same kind of guy that’s been playing for a number of years.”
Waters is a key part of the NFL’s top-ranked offense. The 34-year-old is starting a right guard for a team that averages 495.2 yards per game.
“He’s done an excellent job for us,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He’d been with Kansas City for so long and I never really had any exposure to him other than coaching against him, but having him on our team has been awesome.
“He’s got a strong work ethic. He really studies hard and prepares well. He’s very, very professional and is a good football player. He’s a good athlete. He’s strong. He’s got a lot of experience. He picks up things well and quickly and he’s really fit into our team and system very well.”
It’s difficult to determine how Dockery fits with the Cowboys. He started the season as a reserve and performed well while filling in for seventh-round rookie Bill Nagy as a starter in Week 2’s win over the 49ers. But Dockery has been sidelined since that game with a knee injury.
The Cowboys could have had Waters for his entire career. As an undrafted rookie, he signed with the Cowboys, who tried to convert the college defensive tackle/tight end to fullback.
After the Cowboys cut Waters, the Chiefs signed him and allocated him to NFL Europe to learn to play center and guard. He became one of the elite guards of the last decade, a status he’s maintaining for the Patriots after the Cowboys passed on him again.