Dec 8, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Should Dallas Cowboy Demarcus Ware Take a Pay Cut?


Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) celebrates after recovering a fumble with linebacker Trent Cole (58) in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In 2014 Demarcus Ware will count over $16M against the salary cap for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Tony Romo’s recent restructuring this number makes Ware the single biggest hit to the Cap on the team this season. Coming off a disappointing season in which he collected a paltry 6 sacks and 40 tackles, it’s no wonder the Cowboys are looking to him to take a pay cut.

The validity of a pay cut seems obvious to us, right?

But what does this all look like on Demarcus Ware’s side?

Ware’s Side of Things

For roughly the past decade, Demarcus Ware has been one of the (if not the) most feared pass-rusher in the game. He has been an upstanding citizen and teammate throughout. He has always been paid very well and in-turn delivered a performance that exceeded all expectations.

Physically, Ware has taken great care of his 31 year old body. Up until the last 2 seasons, he has largely been imperious to injury. The Cowboys have been able to rely on him every step of the way. When the inevitable injuries finally came as of late, Ware powered on. Although noticeably impacted by injury, Demarcus continued to fight.

If the injuries across the D-line were not so bad, you can bet Ware would have been on the sideline rather than on the field damaging his name and reputation. But Ware played and his reputation paid the price.

Said Ware to ESPN,

I play hurt, bruised up. Some guys don’t play, but I still get out there and play because I don’t care about anything else.

Now Ware is sitting back, after the two most difficult years of his career, and all anyone can talk about is how far he’s fallen. They say he’s done. The say he needs to take a cut. He’s the problem. The Cowboys don’t need him.

Demarcus is well-aware that age takes a toll on a body. He knows he lost a step (how many steps remain to be seen) but he still thinks he can be a double-digit sack man. He doesn’t want to give up guaranteed money because he feels he’s earned that. He sees players like Brandon Carr who are getting paid big despite playing terribly. And Carr isn’t even armed with the excuse of injury.

Very rarely are big-named players asked to take pay cuts in the NFL. Even more rarely do players accept a cut. Ware has to be wondering why he’s the one being singled out.

Recently ESPN reported the Cowboys contacted Ware and his agent and expressed the desire to keep Ware on the Cowboys. They also stated they needed him to be open to a pay cut. The exact words that were used are unknown but the way in which they were delivered are vitally important.

In recent months Demarcus Ware has felt unappreciated and disrespected by fans, media, and his team. Accepting a pay cut would almost seem like accepting the criticism.

Ware also said this to ESPN,

We need guys here to be on the team for next season to help me out, to help us out, so sometimes you can’t think about a whole bunch of money and then not have anybody there. You need somebody there by your side, a defensive tackle, a defensive end, a wide receiver. You need to figure it out because the time is now.

This is exactly what a team wants to hear from its star players. The unselfishness expressed in this quote is almost inspiring. The man wants to win. If he’s treated with dignity and respect he seems awfully willing to forgo money for a chance at improving the roster, doesn’t he?

Before everyone piles on to the Anti-Ware Bandwagon let’s give the guy a break. He’ll never be a 15+ sack man again but maybe he can get 11. That’s better than what most teams have and it’s a perfectly reasonable expectation for Ware.

He sounds like he’s listening to the team’s side of things on this. Let’s do the same for him and listen to his side.

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson

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  • Old Frog

    His contract needs to be performance based. Give us more sacks, you get more money. Play like last year, you get less.

    • Reid Hanson

      Exactly. But the wording and structure will need to be very specific if the Cowboys hope to save money in the short-term. Reasonable performance goals count against a team on the salary cap.

      • Old Frog

        $1 million base + $1 million/sack with $7 million guaranteed.

  • SmartThinking

    If Ware is going to be stubborn, he’ll be playing for another team in about two months. That’s pretty clear from Jones’ media comments lately.

    That’d be a shame, actually. He’d be smart to take the pay cut, prove his worth on the field and retire a Cowboy.

    But the drama will continue nonetheless.

    • Reid Hanson

      Yup, and perhaps I’m being too nostalgic for the man, but I think he will be willing to take a cut as long as he’s treated with dignity and respect.
      It’s strange for me to be sensitive to the underachieving player (and maybe hypocritical too) in situations like this. I’m typically extremely intolerant to poor performers but I just think he has a couple more 10 sack seasons in him and I know how hard it is to replace that.

      • SmartThinking

        Right now, Ware’s history as a Cowboy counts for nothing. And, whether Ware has a couple more years left in him is academic as well. Jones is going to draft a DE somewhere in this upcoming Draft. Ware will either be here to transition the guy … or, he won’t. Those are simply the brutal facts ala big Jones.

        Better Ware be here. But, as the biblical quote goes, “Pride goeth before a fall.”