Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) celebrates a sack with defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (97) against the St. Louis Rams in the first quarter of the game at AT

A Great Cowboys GM Would Cut Ties With Hatcher, Ware


If the Dallas Cowboys decide to move on from former All-Pro defensive end Demarcus Ware following the 2013 season, with a $16 million cap hit looming in 2014 and four years remaining on his contract, here’s what the press conference from Dallas GM Jerry Jones might sound like:

“This is a player and person I have immense respect for, and he meant a lot to this team and organization. Unfortunately he’s a casualty of the system. The timing is not good. We tried to find a way to make it work. In the end, we weren’t able to get to that point.”

Those exact words were uttered by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick following the release of safety Lawyer Milloy just days before the 2003 season opener. At the time the 29-year-old Milloy had been to four pro bowls and was a team captain three years running. He was a key defensive contributor to Belichick’s first Superbowl run in 2001 – a smart, hard-nosed player and natural leader who made his teammates better.

Exactly the kind of player a coach like Belichick could fall in love with. But a great NFL executive needs to be utterly ruthless in evaluating his existing talent and protecting his cap numbers. In the end, Belichick went with the math, Milloy went to the Bills, and the Patriots won the next two Superbowls.

Jerry’s tenure as Dallas general manager has been challenged by two major flaws: His cavalier treatment of the organization’s premium draft assets, which we chronicled here, and his propensity to sign existing players to huge contracts that they don’t live up to.

This year alone, Jerry is cutting checks to Bears defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, the retired Gerald Sensabaugh, and Bengals cornerback Terrance Newman. Check out the excellent deconstruction of the Cowboys cap problems by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell here.

Jerry’s insistence at this year’s trading deadline that the team wouldn’t trade premium draft assets for short-term help on a battered defensive line suggests the Dallas GM finally understands the long-term organizational value of the draft. That may hurt this season, but it bodes well for the team’s future.

The fact that long-time Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who is playing out of his mind in the midst of a pro bowl season, is also playing without a long-term contract extension suggests Jerry may have also turned a corner in evaluating his existing talent in conjunction with his cap restrictions.

Jerry’s doing the math. Hatcher is a difference maker and a leader who is outplaying his contract. He’s also on the wrong side of 30 and plays a physically demanding position better suited to young legs.

Strictly speaking, Hatcher represents a win for GM Jerry and the organization: Elite production on the cheap. In the past, Jerry would have “rewarded” such a player with a massive extension his aging body could never hope to play up to. Not now. Some other NFL GM will likely overpay for Hatcher this offseason, so his run is almost surely done in Dallas.

Why? Head coach Jason Garrett told us why after the release of Ratliff:

“Trust me, when we make decisions, we’re doing it on the information that’s in front of us and we’re trying to do it in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys and that’s the way we’ll always make decisions.”

Belichick couldn’t have said it better. This is a franchise on the rise. The cap will be a problem for several years to come, due largely to GM Jerry’s decisions during the Wade Phillips era, but all signs are pointing to smart – and ruthless – personnel decisions moving forward.

Garrett makes Jerry better. How much better will be tested this offseason. The smart move for 2014 is to cut ties with both Hatcher and Ware, assuming they can’t be re-signed on the cheap. Hoard draft picks, identify and sign talent that will outplay a contract, and let some other GM dole out the rewards after this team has used them up.

Ruthless results in rings, and that’s all anybody cares about. The maturation of GM Jerry continues…

Next Cowboys Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep3:25San Francisco 49ersBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Dallas Cowboys

  • MCA

    And who does this great GM replace them with??? No one on this current roster will do.

  • californy

    The Cowboys next year will have 10 players equal to 93 Million dollars. Don’t the numbers sound familiar. JJ never address the cap issue he recreates the same issue every years. Look what Mckensie Oakland GM has done in Oakland, Year one he cut 30 Million, and year 2 he cut 80 Million, and in 2014 they will be 68 million bellow the cap number. They already won this year what they won last year in game also,

  • SmartThinking

    You’re wrong when you say a great GM would cut ties with Hatcher and Ware over their salaries.

    A great GM would NEVER have let this franchise get to the point where very good players are cut or leave because the cap is blown and they can’t make what they are legitimately worth.

    This mess and all the blame, and more crucially, the future of this team, can be placed directly at the feet of Jerry Jones and his unbelievable mismanagement of the players and the cap. For all intents and purposes, Jones has sold the future seed corn of this team, i. e. Future players, to pay for current and former players, their enormous salaries, and portions of their enormous salaries now that many of them have either moved on to other teams or retired.

    It’s not good enough to just say, “well, all teams do it.” Other teams manage their cap significantly better than Dallas while the great teams consider their cap management as paramount to the current and future health of their franchises.

    Dallas is going to be in for possibly decades of poor teams with poor players because of the impact Jones’ bad cap management has had on players’ salaries.

    If this story’s writer is correct, in less than two seasons, Dallas will have lost its entire defensive line as a result of Jones’ management errors and mistakes. That is a remarkable statement to have to deal with!

    And still, what we get from Jones is how great a job he’s doing this year. The man is myopic to the reality he’s created for this Dallas team. Or else, he’s deliberately destroying the greatest, most expensive sports franchise in the world!

    I’m really not sure one GM will be enough to fix what Jones has broken. More importantly, what competent professional GM would even consider coming in to fix this mess even, and this is the big even, even if Jones opened his wallet and closed his mouth.

    We as Cowboys fans have deserved a better owner for several years now. There needs to be a way to reach Jones and get through his ego so he will hear what we are saying. Otherwise, we’re going to see a storied franchise devolve into something that resembles Cleveland or Oakland.

    • ctcowboy1968

      Right on! Unfortunately, JJ’s ego is bigger than AT&T stadium! It’s all about JJ. Nothing else matters to him. People like to write that he cares about winning more than anyone. Correction, he only cares about winning if he gets the credit for it.
      The Jones’ have ruined this team and will continue to do so as long as they maintain their “it’s all about me” attitude. This probably will last a long time.

    • John

      A big-money extension is what it’s gonna take to keep Hatcher. Some GM out there will overpay for him based on his production this year and his history as a rotational player – he’ll rationalize there’s more tread on the tire, even though he’ll be 32.

      If Jerry spurns Hatcher, and cuts Ware, then we can infer he’s doing things differently. Perhaps that he and Garrett are hoping to employ the Belichick model (ruthless!) in building a perennial contender. And you will have missed it because you’re still complaining about GM Jerry circa 2010…

      • SmartThinking

        Yeah. That’s it. “Jones the Ruthless!”

        It has a nice ring to it but we both know a zebra can’t change its stripes. And Jerry Jones will continue as long as there’s a dollar in his coin purse to pay good money for over valued players.

        It’s in his DNA. It’s his nature … because no one has ever showed him the smart way to run a business and actually make money.

        That’s the problem with trying to turn a wildcatter into a legitimate CEO. There’s just not enough grey matter where it matters most –between his ears!!!

        • John

          That’s funny. Maybe you’re right, but it just doesn’t jive with what I see. Conventional wisdom tells me a zebra can’t change it’s stripes; my eyes tell me Jerry’s different.

          Old GM would find a way to throw money at Hatcher; new GM is gonna let the aging tackle walk, and replace him with someone younger and cheaper.

          Old GM would have mortgaged the franchise’s future by throwing draft picks at some team for short-term help along a battered D Line; new GM hoards his draft picks.

          Old GM had never used a first round draft pick on an offensive lineman; new GM has taken two first-round O Linemen in the past three years.

          It’s like the Cowboys got a new GM when Garrett was hired. Conventional wisdom says that’s impossible – Jerry can’t change. But that’s the problem with conventional wisdom – once accepted, it halts the search for truth… My eyes tell me we got a new GM in 2011.

          • SmartThinking

            Jones and his crew aren’t smart enough to wait to make the right decisions. He’s much too busy throwing crap against the wall hoping it’ll stick.

            They’ve consistently replaced aging players with retreads, cast offs and dubious choices because they’re cheap and available. Don’t fix it! Just keep feeding it!

            I watch this man and scratch my head at his semi-professional decision-making processes. He’ll draft a top lineman like Frederick or Smith, then place bad players next to them, or wait until the last minute and pay top dollar to bring in a guy like Waters who, despite his legitimate credentials, promptly gets hurt. Then, he pays twice the price for the league’s penalty leader on the line and says take a pay cut or we’ll sit you. We’ll still have to pay you, but you’ll sit.

            He pays top dollar for a slot back whose hammies are more tender and temperamental than my mom’s. We can’t trade Austin because of his enormous paycheck. So, he sits.

            I don’t even know where to begin trying to define the Ratliff debacle. Whatever Jones did to piss off Ratliff, he did it well. Ratliff risked a full blown lawsuit to get away from Jones and his inept management expertise.

            Lessee, where next? Okay, defensive line. By the start of next season,

  • Earl Robertson

    There isn’t enough time or space to write about how bad of a GM Jones is!

    • californy

      There always time as long as he is still alive do it.

  • jrcowboy49

    What is the market value for trading Ware?

    • John

      A 32-year-old defensive end with declining numbers, mounting injuries, and a $16 million sticker next season? The market is non-existent. Plenty of teams, the Cowboys included, would like to have Ware on their roster next season… but the price tag is prohibitive.

  • ctcowboy1968

    There’s no way JJ lets Ware go anywhere. A franchise DE. Certain HOFer. Defensive MVP. All time Cowboy sack leader. Ware is not the player that he was, but he still commands respect from the other team. JJ does not have to do anything and Ware will be a Cowboy for his entire career.

    • John

      Ware is not the day-in, day-out difference-maker he was, and at $16 million next year, he makes this team worse. Too many holes to be filled with that money to spend it on a man who’s dominant days are behind him. Gotta be ruthless to be a great GM in the NFL.

      • ctcowboy1968

        I completely agree. I am just saying that JJ will never let Ware go. Ware’s only move is the speed rush to the outside which just takes him out of the play.

  • Keith Batchelor

    If you want to have the worst pass rush in league history, go ahead and cut those two.

  • californy

    You people must live in the present and not in your fantasy world with JJ, he is what he is.

  • californy

    Why did Jerry name come up in an article title great GM