The Patriots held out to the very last moment, keeping his locker and his spot on the roster, but it appears that Brian Waters is not walking through that door for the Patriots. According to the Boston Herald, the Patriots have taken his nameplate off the locker and any speculation that Waters could return “should just about come to an end.” Waters presence for the season was a question all offseason, but apparently the Patriots wanted him to take a pay cut down to the veteran’s minimum heading into his age 35 season and he didn’t feel it was worth leaving his family in Texas for that.
Waters will definitely be missed. ProFootballFocus’ 4th rated guard in 2011, Waters would have almost certainly been an asset to the Patriots even at his age. His presence would have not only upgraded the right guard position, where the mediocre Dan Connolly now starts, but it would have allowed Connolly to move to center, where would have provided a more experienced option over Ryan Wendell, a former undrafted free agent who won the job over Dan Koppen in the preseason. Wendell has played well in his career in limited action, but it remains to be seen if he can keep it up over a full season.
The Patriots offensive line is looking like a real problem, especially since Sebastian Vollmer is questionable for week 1 with lower back problems. Left tackle Nate Solder is a 2011 1st round rookie who needs to step it up this season as Brady’s full time blindside protector. Only left guard Logan Mankins is dependable on this line. Tom Brady is not on the level of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning when it comes to dealing with pressure. He’s taken a sack on 15.7% pressured drop backs, which is good, but not great.
He also only has completed 220 of 441 passes (49.9%) and thrown 23 touchdowns to 13 interceptions under pressure over the last 3 season, as opposed to 994 for 1425 (69.8%) with 94 touchdowns to 24 interceptions while not under pressure. If you want to nitpick his game, this is the area to do it. If you can beat his offensive line with 4 guys (like the Giants), Brady is stoppable. This has a chance to derail what otherwise looks like an explosive offense with the addition of Brandon Lloyd at wide receiver and Stevan Ridley emerging at running back.