Say what you will about the timing of the Cowboys finally coming to terms with veteran free-agent guard Brian Waters six days before Sunday’s season opener against the Giants.
But don’t argue with the results.
Waters, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, according to a source, is a huge upgrade to the Cowboys’ reshuffled offensive line.
Waters will not play against the Giants. The former six-time Pro Bowler has not played since 2011 when he was with the Patriots. To make room on the roster safety Eric Frampton (groin) was placed on injured reserve.
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Waters, who played for North Texas and lives in Waxahachie, would need at least a couple of weeks to get into football shape, according to a source.
But this move, which began with Waters working out for the team Tuesday at Valley Ranch, was rooted in what was best for the Cowboys for the balance of the season.
Waters, 36, is a six-time Pro Bowler. He earned five during an 11-year career with the Chiefs and another came in 2011 with New England.
The Cowboys and Waters have been talking since July when the team had a number of injuries at the guard position.
The deal, which was declared dead three weeks ago by owner Jerry Jones, took a long time partly because the sides were far apart on money and partly because Waters didn’t want to come to training camp.
The Cowboys have since placed Nate Livings on injured reserve with a knee injury. Ron Leary returned to individual drills Monday after undergoing surgery on his right knee Aug. 18. Mackenzy Bernadeau has missed a lot of practice time with injuries since he was signed last off-season, including being out last week with an ankle injury. Right tackle Doug Free began working at right guard two weeks ago.
The addition of Waters, who would start opposite Leary at guard, would allow Free to move back to right tackle. It would also give the Cowboys experienced and quality backups at guard and tackle in Bernadeau and Jeremy Parnell.
The lineup for Sunday’s game against the Giants is still not set, however. The Cowboys are hoping Leary will be ready to go.
Jerry Jones is so excited about the start of the season with Sunday’s season opener against the Giants that he can’t sleep.
“Can’t sleep, popped up at 4:30 this morning,” Jones said on his radio show on KRLD-FM Tuesday. “It’s just an exciting time to think that we’ve got the team on the field that we do. This is a big game, we open it up nationally at AT&T Stadium. [It’s] almost more than I can handle.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. The Cowboys have never beaten the Giants in AT&T Stadium.
Jones said he feels the pressure from the team’s past disappointments, especially the past two 8-8 seasons when the Cowboys missed the playoffs with losses in the final game.
But Jones said his excitement is rooted in his belief that the Cowboys will make a playoff run and finally live up to expectations because of the host of changes the team made in the off-season.
“These last two years have been arguably … the most disappointing years in my career with the Cowboys,” Jones said. “So, we needed to make some changes, and we did and have. Now, will they work? Will they be effective and productive? That’s what’s there. But we’ve given ourselves a real chance to maximize what [Tony] Romo brings to the table, to maximize our talent.”
The Cowboys made their fourth trade in as many days Tuesday, acquiring former Arena League defensive end Caesar Rayford from the Indianapolis Colts for a conditional 2015 draft pick.
It could be a sign of how unsure the Cowboys are about Anthony Spencer being able to play Sunday. Spencer has been out since July 25 following knee surgery, which was expected to take two to four weeks of recovery. Friday will mark the end of six weeks since the surgery.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful that Spencer can play against the Giants.. Even if Spencer plays, conditioning will be a factor.
“We’ve just got to see how he does, how he responds to the work,” Garrett said. “He’s been working hard to get back. We appreciate that. I know how much desire he has to play.”
Rayford, a 6-foot-7, 245-pounder, went undrafted out of Washington in 2008 and spent the past four years in the Arena Football League with the Utah Blaze before signing with the Colts.
Since Saturday, the Cowboys have traded for defensive end Edgar Jones from the Kansas City Chiefs, traded defensive tackle Sean Lissemore to the San Diego Chargers, claimed linebacker Kyle Bosworth off waivers from the Giants and traded away tight end Dante Rosario to the Chicago Bears.