Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) in action against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Can DeMarcus Ware Be Dominant Again?

Nov 28, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) rushes the passer against the Oakland Raiders during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As a Dallas Cowboys fan from the time I was able to comprehend what football was, I have a tendency to get attached to players. From Daryl “Moose” Johnston in the 90’s, to DeMarcus Ware currently, some players have the combination of on-field performance and personality that reels people in.

One of the many knocks on owner and general manager is he holds onto players past their prime. Jones is faced with a similar situation with Ware this offseason – only the situation is a little different this go-around.

Ware is set to cash in on a base salary of $12.25 million and an additional $500,000 as a workout bonus in 2014, and $13.75 million base salary, with an additional $500,000 workout bonus in 2015. That’s a whopping $27 million in the next two years. Seems like a bargain for a player Ware WAS, but not what he is currently.

Ware turns 32 in July, and this is the time where players start to, on average, decline rapidly. It’s apparent Ware’s best years are behind him when you look at his stat line since 2008, when he had arguably his best season as a pro. In key categories, like tackles and sacks, Ware’s numbers are a shell of what they once were. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 2008 – 20 sacks, 69 tackles
  • 2009 – 11 sacks, 45 tackles
  • 2010 – 15.5 sacks, 56 tackles
  • 2011 – 19.5 sacks, 47 tackles
  • 2012 – 11.5 sacks, 33 tackles
  • 2013 – 6 sacks, 28 tackles

With the switch to a 4-3 base defense, Ware was supposed to flourish. He no longer had to drop into coverage, and could focus on what he did best – get to the quarterback and stop running backs in their tracks. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy and on the field, and his play has suffered. So what to do with him?

According to ESPN, Ware has been asked to take a pay cut. Whether or not he does still remains to be seen, but in the best interest of the Cowboys and their cap issues, Ware had to be asked to be paid according to his current production. But will the same production come from a pay cut that happened when starting right tackle Doug Free took one? Will Ware be re-motivated to produce at a high level again? Or is he going to hold firm and not give up a penny? If that does happen, will he be shown the door? Only time will tell, but the real questions we should be asking is, can they afford to lose him, and can Ware be a dominant force once again, in the twilight of his career? You be the judge.

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