IRVING, Texas - More than 14 years after he signed with his hometown as an undrafted rookie fullback, six-time Pro Bowler Brian Waters has returned home ... again.
In a move to improve the Cowboys' guard position, Waters has officially signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys, the team he grew up idolizing as a native of nearby Waxahachie and later a standout at North Texas in Denton.
To make room for Waters, the Cowboys will put safety Eric Frampton on the waived/injured list and likely give the veteran an injury settlement for his calf injury. The Cowboys initially kept Frampton as one of six safeties but he wasn't expected to play this week against the Giants.
Waters, who hasn't played a snap since 2011 with the Patriots, officially signed his contract late Tuesday night at Valley Ranch. The deal is worth $1.5 million in base salary. However, Waters can earn up to $3 million total based on play-time incentives.
Wearing a T-shirt and gym shorts, Waters arrived to the Cowboys' complex to sign the deal Tuesday night, then immediately went to the coaching offices, where he met with assistants Bill Callahan and Frank Pollard for what was expected to be a long night of film session.
However, Waters is not expected to play Sunday night against the Giants, and that appears to be the Cowboys' call. However, he's no stranger to quick turnarounds. When he signed in New England, Waters joined the team on Sept. 3 and played in 85 percent of the Patriots' offensive snaps in a win over Miami.
A six-time Pro Bowler who spent the first 10 years of his career in Kansas City, Waters is still expected to practice with the Cowboys on Wednesday. While he likely won't play Sunday, count on Waters being ready for the Sept. 14 game with the Chiefs, a team he spent a full decade with.
So what does this mean for the Cowboys' offensive line this season, or even this week against the Giants?
It seems like that could be two different answers.
The Cowboys will likely prepare to get both Ron Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau ready to start. Leary hasn't practiced since early August when he underwent a minor knee scope that kept him out of the final three preseason games.
Leary is expected to practice Wednesday at left guard.
Assuming Waters won't be ready, Bernadeau will likely start. But after that is up in the air. Leary has never started an NFL game so it's not a given he would keep his role. The Cowboys would obviously prefer for Leary to win the job, but it will have to be earned.
This move also allows the Cowboys to keep veteran Doug Free at right tackle. The club experimented with Free at guard the last few weeks when they were unsure about the status of Leary.