If the Dallas Cowboys weren't officially in desperation mode regarding their interior offensive line, they're entering that range right now.
Ronald Leary, an early preseason bright spot at guard, will have surgery on his right knee, according to Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News, casting doubt on his ability to suit up Week 1.
The incumbent starter at left guard, Nate Livings, remains on the sideline as he recovers from his own right knee surgery, and the inconsistent Mackenzy Bernadeau—while healthy at the moment—hasn't been a very reliable option on the right side.
Veteran Ryan Cook is out with a back injury, while third-year option Kevin Kowalski is currently not an option due to a knee injury.
Throw in that Brandon Moore spurned the team last week and that leaves the 'Boys with just Bernadeau and David Arkin (and possibly first-round pick Travis Frederick, with Phil Costa starting at center) to man the two guard positions for the time being.
As a result, everyone's looking at Brian Waters.
The Cowboys made a contract offer to the 12-year veteran before the week began, according to ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins, but they've yet to hear back. He was out of the league last year after refusing to play in New England, but it could be a different story in his home state of Texas.
Waters was a Pro Bowler in 2010 with Kansas City and in 2011 with New England.
In '11, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) gave him the league's fourth-highest grade at the guard position, concluding that he was the best pass-blocking guard in football. So while he might be 36 years old now, he's probably still the best option Dallas has.
Naturally, folks are probably wondering what's taking Waters so long. But he probably is in no rush to join a team at camp—especially two time zones over. And consider, too, that as things become more dire in Big D, the price probably continues to climb.
There are very few guard options remaining on the free-agent market, so Waters and his agent probably realize where the leverage lays.
Even when healthy, the Cowboys are in less than ideal shape at the guard spots and right across the offensive line. This is a team that finished 31st in the league with 3.6 yards per carry while surrendering more pressure than all but three other units in 2012, per PFF.
At this point, Dallas might not be able to afford to let a guy like Waters get away.