November 17, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) forces a fumble by USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) in the fourth quarter of the game at the Rose Bowl. UCLA won 38-28. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Replacing DeMarcus Ware: No Simple Task


Nov 28, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) rushes the passer against Oakland Raiders tackle Tony Pashos (79) during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat Oakland 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With the status of Demarcus Ware still in question, it seems like a great time to look around the league and come to grips with how hard it is to find a pass-rusher. Cowboy fans have been spoiled this last decade. Demarcus Ware has simply been the best in the business.

Even the last 2 years where his health and production fell off a cliff, players stepped up and filled the void. Anthony Spencer in 2012 and Jason Hatcher in 2013, both stepped up and delivered the pressure necessary to win in today’s NFL.

But with so much fortune, it’s easy to lose sight of how hard it really is to find a double-digit sack master. Did you know only 24 players had 10 or more sacks last year? Considering the attention team pay in finding and developing pass-rushers, it’s amazing there are so few.

Only 24 10 sack players means many teams are forced to pass-rush by committee or focus on the blitz. Although useful, having a dedicated player pressuring the QB without the use of blitzing is like fielding an extra player. It’s a luxury few teams have.

The 24 10-sack players aren’t even dispersed evenly team to team. Many teams boast multiple 10-sack players leaving 1/3 of the league without a single one.

Drafting a player in the first round of the draft does little to guarantee a 10-sack player. Pass-rushing busts are common in the first round. The speed guys usually lack strength while the strong guys lack speed. It’s hard to project. With so many “tweeners” entering the NFL the problem get even more severe. The most impressive rushers often lack the size to be every-down players. How willing and able they are to add a little extra weight and willingly take on extra blocks is often a mystery.

Cowboys fans have been spoiled. There is no other way to say it.

If Ware leaves the Cowboys odds say it will take years to replace a fraction of his production. Granted keeping his does little to guarantee his production either.

The Cowboys and their training staff clearly believe Ware can still produce double digit sacks or they wouldn’t be working to redo a deal. If Ware refuses to cut enough salary he may find himself on the open market while the Cowboys find themselves without a 10 sack player for the first time in years.

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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  • ctcowboy1968

    10 sacks or not, he is not worth the money he is currently set to make.

    • Reid Hanson

      No it does not. And it looks like both sides are plying hardball. I now estimate his return a true 50/50. If it makes it to free agency with no word yet, he’s probably gone. I would much rather invest that money in a young guy like Henry Melton anyway.

      • Keith Ranson

        Then You BOTH Better Pray That JJ Has A GINORMUS Rabbit To Pull Out Of The Hat!

        • Reid Hanson

          I honestly don’t think there is even a tiny rabbit in this scenario. I think the Cowboys will be hurting as a result but it’s a temporary and necessary hurt. The Cowboys need to get worse in order to get better. I do not expect a winning season in Dallas for quite a while.

  • Keith Ranson

    ‘Replacing Him is No Simple Task’ NO SHIT,SHERLOCK!

    • Reid Hanson

      The point is many people speak like finding a 10 sack player is easy. It’s not. The cowboys need to be prepared to search for at least a couple seasons to find someone that can produce 10 or more.

  • Chad

    There are too many people out there that are expecting to drag someone in by the time training camp rolls around that’s gonna be equivalent to DW in his prime. Kony Ealy is our ticket at this point. Should be available at 16 and while he’s raw, giving him time with Marinelli could turn him into a double-digit sack machine in a relatively short amount of time. I know the DT spot is what everyone wants right now, but it looks to me like the 3 tech is way deeper this year than true 4-3 DEs.