A renegotiation isn’t out of the question, but it’s certainly doubtful for a player of Ware’s stature. Since he first put on a helmet in the Pee Wee league, Ware’s arrow has pointed up. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be told he can’t hack it. If his reaction to a pay cut is one of disbelief and anger, who can blame him? Data be damned, he is DeMarcus Ware.
And with three straight years of contract restructures, Ware can reasonably argue he hasn’t been paid according to the terms of the original agreement. Whether or not he earned that money with his play on the field is a separate discussion – promises were made and not kept.
So a release seems more likely. Crunching the numbers, both the team and the player will have benefited from the relationship, so there should be no lasting animus. After Ware finishes his playing days as a Saint or a Falcon or whatever, the Cowboys can call an emotional press conference for Ware to sign a one-day contract, retire a Cowboy, and await his inevitable enshrinement in the Ring of Honor. Check out the math from overthecap.com:
Ware’s original 6-year, $78 million contract worked out to an average of $13 million per year – a figure no one, not even Ware, expected him to receive. In four years, he’s collected just over $34 million.
Upon his release, Ware will be due $8.5 million in unpaid guarantees. Add that dead money to salaries and bonuses already paid, and the franchise will have paid Ware about $42 million for four years of work.
So the way the contract worked out was not terrible, financially, for either the player or the team. One can argue, even factoring in his two-year decline, that Ware was worth $10.5 million a season during a four-year stretch where he averaged 13 sacks, 55 tackles and 2 forced fumbles per year, and missed only three games.
The team got solid play for the money, and Ware has no cause for hurt feelings – the pay was fair for the production and befitting an elite player.
Ware could still surprise and renegotiate. Maybe the Cowboys brand is important to him. Maybe he’s more like Kirby Puckett than Brett Favre. Ware’s already a multi-multi-millionaire. Maybe making a run with this team and these players means more to him than the money and the perceived “respect.”
The modern sporting era makes cynics of us all. Perhaps if the team hadn’t restructured Ware’s contract the past three years, he’d be more amenable to a renegotiation. As it is, it feels like a long shot. If so, cutting him is the right move.
The part that stings isn’t that the Cowboys paid Ware elite money, even as he declined; it’s that they financed him.