Yesterday, the Patriots held visits with two high-profile free agent interior lineman, former Cowboys center/guard Andre Gurode and former Chiefs guard Brian Waters. The Patriots ended up signing the later of the two, with the team announcing the signing of the four time Pro Bowler earlier this afternoon.
This signing looks like a solid move from a Patriots standpoint. The Patriots have some uncertainty at the right guard position, with Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell both nursing injuries. Waters is an experience vet, hungry for a title that can step in and immediately be a starter at right guard. When Dan Connolly gets healthy, he then becomes the top interior back-up at all three interior line positions.
Although he is getting ripe in age at 34 years old, Waters is still a very solid player capable of being a plus-player at the right guard position. As many have pointed out, Waters is a vested veteran and the Patriots opted to sign him before week one, which means that his entire base salary will be guaranteed after next Monday's game. The Patriots aren't signing Waters for him to sit on the bench - he will be playing a significant role for the Patriots in 2011.
It's had to say how much Waters has left in the tank. However, Waters is a tough, reliable, smart player and I think the timing of his signing is indicative that the Patriots think the 34-year-old guard can still can compete at a high level.
To make room for Waters, the Patriots released tackle Steve Maneri and long snapper James Dearth. The team also claimed rookie free agent long snapper Danny Aiken from the Buffalo Bills.