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Dolphins, Dolfans should monitor Waters saga

All Dolphins fans should monitor the situation between the Kansas City Chiefs and Brian Waters.

We all know the Dolphins are lately not in the business of being interested in 30-year-old-plus veteran players who are unhappy on other teams. But there are exceptions to every rule and, while nothing is imminent or certain, the Waters situation might eventually qualify as such an exception.

Waters is the 32-year-old veteran guard for the Chiefs. Acting as his own agent and in his own best-interest, he has requested the Chiefs trade him. The Chiefs, acting in their best business interest, have told Waters they will consider that option as long as the right opportunity to upgrade their team (read acceptable compensation) becomes available.

Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli, who happens to be son-in-law to Miami football czar Bill Parcells, shares this philosophical mantra with his father-in-law: Everybody's available for the right price.

Kansas City is in full-fledged reconstruction mode with a new coach, new general manager, new quarterback, new offensive and defensive system, and new way of doing things. This new day brought about the trade of tight end Tony Gonzalez. And it promises much, much more change that could include Waters.

So why are we discussing this on a Dolphins blog?

Well, because even as they have shown no public interest in Waters, the Dolphins are keenly aware he's dangling out there as a possible training camp "acorn," as general manager Jeff Ireland likes to call them. Waters as an option has not been ruled out by the Dolphins.

Yes, Waters is older than the profile of a player the Dolphins might like.

But so was Chad Pennington. And so was Jason Taylor.

And the Dolphins aren't so certain they won't have a hole along their offensive line that Waters, graded the 10th best guard in the NFL by Scouts Inc., could plug quite effectively.

The right guard spot has been something of a pain for the Dolphins in that Donald Thomas, the man who won the job in training camp last year, was injured in the season-opener and missed all but one game. Then this offseason he tore a pectoral muscle and his rehab time is between four and six months, which means he could be back before the end of training camp or sometime during the regular season, assuming the team opts to keep him on the active roster.

Adding to the uncertainty is the fact Andy Alleman, who was shuttling with Ikechuku Ndukwe at right guard before becoming the starter at left guard the final four games of 2008, has been hampered by a back condition that has forced him to miss OTA practices.

Coach Tony Sparano said the team is searching for a starting right guard by shuttling Brandon Frye, Ndukwe, and Shawn Murphy, among others, at the position. And while that might end up being the solution to the issue, no one would argue any of the players just mentioned have the resume Waters offers.

So what is likely to happen?

The situation in Kansas City has to reach critical mass and it is not there yet. There are dates that could trip some activity one way or the other. The start of training camp is one such date as the Chiefs might not want any drama or distractions in the locker room the day the new coach and new front office start their first training camp.

Waters was a good citizen at Kansas City's mandatory mini-camp over the weekend, saying the right things, albeit in a not-too-convincing tone. At one point during this interview, Waters is asked if he wants to play for the Chiefs and he answers, "Ah, you know what, yeah, today I do. That's why I'm here. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here. If that changes then the right people will be notified."

Not exactly a resounding commitment.

What if he decides on the first day of training camp that he doesn't? The point is the opening of training camp is one date that could trigger action. The next one is nearing the end of training camp and prior to the start of the season when teams are eager to improve themselves or make long-term decisions on players.

The Chiefs may decide they don't want to carry Waters into the season because that would automatically guarantee his $3.6 million base salary. And the next tripping point would be the midseason trade deadline in October.

The Dolphins will be searching for guard help throughout the remainder of this offseason and into training camp even though they will publicly say they are confident in the players already on the roster and are thrilled with what they have. (What else are they supposed to say?)

You should know that Waters is signed through the 2011 season, according the NFLPA. He is scheduled to make $2.9 million in 2010 and $3.9 million in 2011. You should also know the Chiefs and Dolphins have something of a relationship (as stated above between Parcells and Pioli) and in the fact Ireland and Pioli talked and even pulled off a minor trade during the past draft.

And finally, you should know that guards don't typically bring big compensation on the trade market. Yes, Waters is a three-time Pro Bowl player. But Pete Kendall, a disgruntled player for the New York Jets, cost the Redskins a fifth-round pick in 2007.

The timing of that Kendall trade was predictable -- in August's final week, just prior to the start of the season.

So monitor the Brian Waters news, Dolfan. The final chapter on what he has termed a "saga" has not yet been written.

[BLOG UPDATE: It's time for a live chat! Ok, maybe not quite yet. But Thursday from noon until about 2 p.m. (longer if there's enough feedback), I'll be on here to discuss Friday's opening of the team's only veteran mandatory offseason minicamp and just about anything else on your agenda.] 

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