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Bridge Over Troubled Waters

A sight for sore, sack-and-pressure-allowing eyes.
A sight for sore, sack-and-pressure-allowing eyes.

The melodramatic soap opera starring offensive lineman Brian Waters and the Patriots' front office this offseason experienced a shocking plot twist when the Boston Globe's Shalise Manza Young reported that the New England Patriots had offered Waters a "significant pay raise." How significant? A $4 million offer was reported to be on the table during training camp, nearly tripling the amount that Waters would have earned this season.

Waters declined.

While speculation has run rampant throughout the daytime television-esque annals, it's been rumored that the 34-year-old Waters wants to play closer to his home base in Texas to be with his family. An increase in his $1.4 million salary he was due to receive this year was figured to sweeten the deal of leaving his children behind and playing in the unforgiving, wintery tundra that is Foxborough, Mass.

This was not to be so, and now the Patriots are left with a "What next?" scenario. It's been assumed the Houston Texans would be one of the first teams knocking on The Razor's door in an attempt to bolster their offensive line and load up for an eventual playoff run. While the Patriots could realistically receive a reasonably high draft pick in return, the deal is heavily soured by the prospect of further strengthening a strong AFC contender.

The preferred outcome would be for Waters to return and improve the Patriots' own hurting o-line, but it seems this is no longer a feasible option. Removing a player's name plate from their locker tends to be a Belichickian kiss of death, so while our fingers may be sore from crossing, it appears a Waters return is highly unlikely barring a miracle. What unfolds will be something to monitor as Waters is still contractually obligated to the Patriots, having signed a two-year deal prior to the 2011 season. While the Waters fiasco is one of the many times the Patriots find themselves having leverage over a player, I feel the Patriots would gladly surrender their upper hand this time to deliver a Pro Bowl-caliber answer to a questionable front line.