Major League Lacrosse’s new player movement policy was met with a variety of opinions, but after its first offseason, it’s made at least one player appreciative.
Now in his 11th season, Joe Walters’ contract with the Chesapeake Bayhawks expired at the end of last season, allowing him to take advantage of MLL’s take on free agency.
The former No. 1 overall pick in 2006 by the Rochester Rattlers was courted by the Lizards, and for him, the move to New York was a no-brainer.
“I loved my time in Chesapeake, but at the end of the day, I had a great deal with New York,” the midfielder said. “That’s ultimately why I ended up in New York. There’s a unique situation to play with Paul (Rabil), Rob (Pannell) and the great players on the team.”
Walters was one of 91 players eligible to seek a new team this offseason. A player is only eligible if he “has been in the League for a minimum of five consecutive seasons and has an expiring contract,” according to MLL’s official site.
When Walters’ season ended, he jumped at the chance to join a Lizards team with plenty of offensive firepower. Off to a 2-1 start, the Lizards are still working out the early kinks.
Occasional struggles, Walters said, can be attributed to the sheer number of “go-to” guys on the offense. On most teams, there’s only one or two such players. On the Lizards?
“I think this team is a little more unique in the talent that’s on the team,” Walters said. “On this team, there’s one, two, three, four players who can be that guy.”
After his first-career 50-point season in 2016, Walters has three goals and four assists through three games.
Given his resume, Walters could continue to weave himself into the team’s offensive plans. He said he’s not entirely pleased with the offense’s consistency yet, but he’s aware of what the Lizards can accomplish when their chemistry reaches its peak.
“Once it does happen, we’ve seen spurts in each of our three games how good it can be,” he said. “When it all comes together on a consistent basis, it’s going to be scary. The caliber of our players on our offense is just unbelievable.”
He predicts an offense that relies on the hot hand as opposed to feeding a particular player, allowing the Lizards to constantly threaten a defense.
Even early on in his Lizards career, Walters can already tell he made the right choice in coming to Long Island via the player movement policy.
“It’s worked out great for me,” he said. “I hope next year more guys take advantage of it.”