The Valley Ranch Review: DeMarcus Ware's Value; Cowboys Change Their Offseason Philosophy

More sacks? Pressures? Dollars? More Everything! That's what DeMarcus Ware wants from the Dallas Cowboys. Sooner or later, his paycheck has got to reflect his work on the field. From Calvin Watkins:

The contract talks are interesting -- if there isn't a new collective bargaining agreement by next spring, Ware will become a restricted free agent for two additional seasons. If that happens, the Cowboys could franchise him.

Ware on the contract negotiations:

"That's a bad thing on their part if they do that," Ware said of getting franchised. "I don't think anything about the CBA, everybody is going on the regular schedule and thinking we'll get a deal done and keep moving."

[snip]

"I hope they do," said Ware about whether or not people recognize him as an upper-echelon player. "But there are still guys out there that are better than me, and probably aren't getting recognized, that are working just as hard as me. It doesn't bother me at all. I worked for it, and at the end of the day, when you work for something, it's deserving."

Ware breaks into Peter Schrager's Top 10 NFL players, coming in at #6.

6. DeMarcus Ware, DE/LB, Dallas Cowboys: A three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Ware is only getting better with every passing year. The loss of free-agent DE Chris Canty could hurt, but the addition of former Falcons LB Keith Brooking may actually free up Ware even more.

More VRR after the jump.

Schrager's list of his Top 99 players has a few more Cowboys on it. First, here are his criteria:

In truth, in compiling the following list, I asked myself three questions. Consider these inquiries the science behind the madness:

1. Which player would I rather have on my team?

2. Which player would make the most impact on my team?

3. Which player will be the best in 2009, specifically?

And our boys who made the list:

28. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys: Another lightning rod figure on this list. You either hate Romo or you love him. I'm a fan. I think Romo's production without T.O. will be one of the more interesting storylines this season. Like him or not, he's a tremendously gifted quarterback. He's got to win a big game one of these years.

80. Marion Barber III, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Barber, like all of the Cowboys last year, was disappointed with how the '08 season ended. He's still one of the the toughest between-the-tackles runners in the league. With a healthy Felix Jones and an increased workload for Tashard Choice, Barber should only be fresher — and better — down the stretch in '09.

96. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo's Cabo buddy broke out in 2007, emerging as his quarterback's favorite target and the NFC's top tight end. Witten followed that up with an 81-catch campaign in '08. With T.O. out of the picture, he'll likely see even more action in '09.

Juuust a bit outside the 99: Jay Ratliff

NFL.com's Pat Kirwan looks at Dallas' change in offseason philosophy as a good thing for the team.

The 2009 Cowboys will be a different football operation. Young players such as Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, Anthony Spencer, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, Bobby Carpenter and at least half of the 12 second-day draft picks will be asked to make bigger contributions and get this team to a Super Bowl.

Many of the new starters and contributors in Dallas believe there is a subtle confidence brewing on that roster that isn't based on a "star" system but more on team cohesion. It will be a tight group that won't be featured in the big headlines. The Cowboys almost might appear boring at times, but they are pointed in the right direction.

Felix Jones hopes to build upon last year, while Jerry Jones expects to see more of the speedy running back on the field.

"I used it as a learning process," [Felix] Jones said. "Things like that are going to happen in such a physical sport. You never know what you can do to hurt yourself. You find out in different ways. It's a learning process for me, figuring out different ways to get better without messing myself up even more."

[snip]

"His speed is what we all refer to, but the obvious is his ability to see all the cars on the highway," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who made the decision to select Felix Jones over Rashard Mendenhall. "... My expectations for Felix are really to have his touches upped significantly, certainly if you take into account that injury situation last year. He'll be a major 'touch factor' in this offense. He will be."

Jason Witten, Bobby Carpenter, Kyle Kosier, Pat McQuistan, Doug Free, Cory Procter and Mat McBriar serving sushi? That's right! These seven Cowboys will serve as "celebrity waiters" at a sushi restaurant Thursday night to raise money for Rich Behm.

The proceeds from all food and beverage sales between 6 and 8 p.m. at RA Sushi Bar Restaurant will go to the Rich Behm Family Trust. The restaurant is located at 7501 Lone Star Drive in The Shops at Legacy in Plano.

This is from the one-that-may-have-got-away department. The only '08 draftee not to make the Dallas squad was outside linebacker Erik Walden. It seems that Coach Phillips knows a talented OLB when he sees one because Walden is making a little noise for himself with the Dolphins.

It seems that every time coach Tony Sparano, General Manager Jeff Ireland and teammates are asked about the array of outside linebackers vying for roster spots, Walden's name is quick to surface.

"I know he was here last year and the team thinks very high of him," said (Jason) Taylor, the six-time Pro Bowler who is penciled in as a pass-rushing specialist behind starters Porter and Matt Roth. "When you're playing the end you've got to be athletic and play with power and leverage, and I think he has that."

(Jerry) Porter, who earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth last season, is happy to share his 10 years of pass-rushing knowledge with Walden and the others. "Walden's real good off the corner, just like a natural athlete," Porter said. "Just learning the defense is the key for them right now, so they'll minimize their mistakes and know exactly where you're going."

Dolphins Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long goes up against Walden every day in practice. "He's a fast-twitch, slippery guy so it's tough to block him," Long said. "I grabbed [his dreadlocks] a couple of times to slow him down."

Wade Phillips will be speaking at the Angelo Football Clinic in San Angelo, Texas.

Need a new MMA guy to root for? Try former Dallas Cowboy, Suni Filikitonga, who is making the transition to mixed martial arts.

"I went in as an undrafted free agent as a defensive tackle," explained Filikitonga who made the Cowboys roster as a defensive end. "I played in 1998, the last year of Troy Aikman, when all the big dogs were still there." But while Filikitonga did what few could have ever imagined, making it onto the roster of a professional football team undrafted, his playing days were over before they ever really began as an injury would derail his dreams of gridiron greatness.

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