Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

QUICK OUT: D-Ware B-Ware

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With the announcement of the hiring of Monte Kiffin as the Cowboys new Defensive Coordinator, it is now a given that Dallas will transition to the 4-3 defense (4 down linemen consisting of 2 defensive ends and 2 defensive tackles with no one typically over the center and 3 linebackers) from the 3-4 defense (3 down linemen with a nose tackle over center and 4 linebackers, 2 outside and 2 inside).  The classic 4-3 alignment typically requires players with a slightly different skill set than what you would need to run the typical 3-4.

It’s an oversimplification of course, but the typical 3-4 depends upon a big, strong nose tackle and big defensive tackles to tie up 4 or 5 offensive lineman giving the four faster, rangier linebackers room to flow to the ball on running plays, or rush the passer or drop back in coverage on passing plays.  The Cowboys had difficulty at times with the 3-4 because they lacked the big tackles normally required for consistent success.

The 4-3 also requires an athletic defensive front but because there are more of them than there are linebackers, they play an integral role in both the run game and in rushing the quarterback (more so than the 3-4).  They don’t need to be as huge and athleticism and speed are more important.  It does require extremely talented linebackers and with Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and possibly Anthony Spencer expected back the Cowboys are in good shape there.

The transition however will require that DeMarcus Ware line up at defensive end instead of outside linebacker.  Not a big deal to most casual observers since he lines up in almost the exact same spot as before with one major exception.  For the first time in his career, he will be in a 3-point stance with his “hand in the dirt” the majority of the time.  That is a bit of a big deal as the technique is significantly different.

That is exactly the reverse of the situation the Texans faced with Mario Williams in 2012.  Williams, the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, was a prototypical defensive end in the 4-3.  When Wade Phillips was hired as the defensive coordinator and implemented his 3-4 scheme, Mario became expendable as he wasn’t the ideal outside linebacker for that alignment.  When he became a free agent, they did not seek to re-sign him and he went to the Buffalo Bills (who still run a 4-3).

So, now the Cowboys face a potential decision about DeMarcus Ware, easily their most notable defensive player.  Some see him playing a “Simeon Rice” role in Kiffin’s defense referring to Rice’s pass rushing dominance in the now infamous “Tampa 2″ defense that helped the Buccanneers win the Super Bowl in 2003.  Ware has certainly shown the athletic ability to rush the passer.  That’s his trademark.  His pass coverage responsibilities would be diminished in the 4-3 so he could peel his ears back and rush the quarterback.

But, the Cowboys have to be concerned about the nagging injuries he’s suffered since spraining his neck in 2009 and his drop in sack production in 2012 recording only 11.5 sacks (a good year for most players but sub par for D-Ware and he seemed to disappear at times).  Ware is also the highest paid linebacker in the NFL based on average salary right now earning over $11 million dollars a season with much of his 6-year contract backloaded into the later years going as high as 16 million dollars in 2015.  With only a projected $18 million dollars in cap room in 2013 right now, the Cowboys have many needs and very little money and draft picks to fill them.

That begs the question:  would the Cowboys entertain the idea of trading DeMarcus Ware for meaningful additional draft picks?  I think Jerry Jones might.  The only era of success the Cowboys have enjoyed since Jerry Jones bought the team was a direct result of a blockbuster trade involving Herschel Walker, arguably his best player at the time.  Those deals don’t come along very often.  BUT, Jones and the Cowboys would be likely to get full value for Ware if he were made available.  They would potentially get some decent additional draft picks to help fill the glaring needs along both the defensive and offensive lines (and at safety), would be unloading a giant contract (which the new team would have to absorb but could renegotiate with an extension), and would be more likely to get something of value for him now versus waiting to see if he can successfully make the transition and stay healthy.  As it is, he is going to miss the entire off season program rehabbing from surgery on both his shoulder and elbow.  So, he’ not going to get to work in the new system until preseason if even then.

I know it’s sacrilege to even suggest it, but if Jerry Jones wants every coach and player in Dallas to be “uncomfortable”, there is no greater way to send that message.  And, it could make some sense for them to do it.  The one upside of all the defensive injuries this year is that a fair amount of the roster got some playing time.  We don’t have another D-Ware on the roster – not many teams do – but do we have players that could play defensive end and rush the passer?  I think we do.  And, quality defensive ends are usually easier to come by in the draft.  Don’t expect a move anytime soon, but it is certainly one of the possibilities as the Cowboys look to re-tool and make a run at another Super Bowl.  For better or worse, you’ve got our attention Jerry.  Let’s hope you make the right moves.  Go Cowboys!

Should the Cowboys consider trading DeMarcus Ware?

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware

  • binder79

    I would move him and i would have done it last year but more-so now with the 43 switch. Ware’s fluff stats make him overrated. Sure he is a good player but he doesn’t demand the attention on the field that everybody thinks & normaly gets handled by just one blocker. So overpaying him like he is a playmaker, when he is more of a rollplayer doesn’t make any sense. I was hoping having Rob Ryan around, he would lite a fire under Ware when the game was on the line. It looks like only Spencer received the message. Now that it s all over with, it’s time to move on, maybe get some extra draft picks.

    Great players make big plays in big games! Great players make others around them better, Ware has never done or been either.

    But I can’t see Jerry Jones selling off his most profitable horse. The Walker Trade was a fluke, he doesn’t have the balls to do it again.


    • Todd Toombs

      Binder – I think you might be right! But, the Cowboys might have some trouble moving his bloated existing contract. Would they go as far as cutting him outright? Would still be a cap hit, but it is a gamble to keep him in my opinion.

      • binder79

        For whatever the cap hit would be, I think the overall value you could get like 2 number 1′s or a 1 & a 2, is well worth the effect over the cost. We didn’t win any games this year because Ware won them or even the previous year. He is not that much of a difference maker in the grand scheme of things. I wouldn’t just cut him because he is a good player, even tho he’s not a playmaker. But filling other holes and maybe retaining future players like Spencer, would get us further to our goals then just retaining Ware. Since his fluff stats make him so valuable market wise, i would find a way to utlize it to the teams benifit. Somebody would want him & would trade for him.

  • Troy Spurlock


  • MikeT

    After so many years of not doing the right thing which was to provide a bookend rusher/linebacker to match Ware and talk of moving Spencer never coming to fruition, the Cowboys have sunk to ludicrous levels to think of moving Ware. The rushers on the 3-4 dline (with the exception of Jay Ratliff) have never provided a real threat in rushing the QB. The Cowboys rushing attack was always about what Demarcus Ware did. The Cowboys have gone into season after season not doing due diligence with the rushing attack and just leaving it on Ware’s shoulders. With draft after draft and Jerry Jones’ record of busts, it is not a proven thing that I could trust Jerry to handle should he move Ware for picks. I would rather go the route of Jerry picking up a rushing specialist in the draft/free agency and leaving Ware put. Jerry didn’t handle the Herschel walker trade or the subsequent picks used later. That was Jimmy Johnson. We’re talking Jerry Jones the GM here or have we all forgotten. The Cowboys have picked up some key players in the draft recently (Lee, Carter, Claiborne) and they need to keep building, but don’t start tearing down what you already have. I understand the value of what Demarcus Ware would bring in picks, but I am a firm believer that Jerry would bundle that. I also believe that Jerry should have matched up Ware with another player to take the opposing team’s sole defensive focus off of Ware years ago.

  • MrZen

    I think its going to hurt the Cowboys switching to the 4-3 then help. This draft is full of big NT, Johnathan Jenkins, Kwame Geathers (if he posts), and Daniel McCullers, all big NT who average 350. All would be great for a 3-4 NT and could start. But yet everyone fails to see that this draft seems to favor 3-4 defenses than 4-3′s. And everyone is so quick to jump on the 4-3 band wagon, to be honest the 4-3 is an out dated defense, it is a predicable defense that limits all players. Much easier to figure out 4-3′s then 3-4′s. Plus the Tampa-2, which will be run in Dallas, is better used as a sub-package then used to be your whole defense. If it were me, I would stick with the 3-4, draft C/OG Berret Jones first round, then OLB Chase Thomas or Landry Jones QB 2nd round, Trade back into the 2nd and get Chase Thomas OLB (if not drafted yet or Landry Jones), 3rd round draft NT Daniel McCullers, 4th round draft DE/NT Kwame Geathers, rest of the draft fillers, RB, WR, wherever thin. Free agents sign, FS LaRon LAndry, move Sensabaugh back to SS, and maybe sign an OG, trade off Ratliff maybe for a late 2nd (even though he was hurt still consider an elite player just missed used, worth at least a late 2nd or an early 3rd round). Now you may ask what about the DL rushing, and I say its a 3-4, the DL doesn’t rush, stop thinking 4-3! The DL is used to clog lanes, and take up blockers so the OLBs can get to the QB. Now my new DL would look like so RE Kwame Geathers, NT Daniel McCullers, DE Jason Hatcher/Marcus Spears (Crazy idea if can’t trade Ratliff off move him here and trade Hatcher or Spears), Now that’s a BIG DL, in a perfect world I would try and also draft NT Johnathan Jenkins and kick him to DE, to make a really big DL but he doesn’t really look like a good DE plus I feel like he will be a bust. I just addressed all the Cowboys major concerns with just 4 draft picks. But now there will be at least 5 problems switching to the Tampa-2/4-3, LB,DE,NT, another LB, and S. And that’s not including OL problems. Not enough cap space and draft picks to go around. The Cowboys will be hurting next season.

  • Richard Yancey

    i hate to say this but maybe this is the uncomfortable that jerry was talking about because of his statue, we could clean house and start fresh, let miles get traded or released and doug free!, plus jay ratliff!. we would suffer for salary cap reasons for the next couple years but why hang on when it isn’t working?

  • weather command

    doesnt matter what jj does as long as he keeps himself as gm. he sucks and has proven that his ego has taken over the ability to run this team. SO sad!

  • ronbo80

    31 yrs old is long in the tooth for a 3-4 speed rushing OLB. Factor in Ware’s huge backloaded contract and the fact he’s coming off major shoulder surgery and I doubt the cowboys could get much in return for him.