DeMarcus Ware on the possibility of the Cowboys asking him to take pay cut: "I'm a team player. I'll do what I need to do to help the team."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 30, 2013
At first it was assumed that the veteran Cowboy and future Hall Of Fame player would be willing to rework his contract in the same manner as Doug Free did prior to the 2013 season, but now Ware is offering a clarification of what he meant by his comments. It seems that giving back some of Jerry Jones lucre is not within Ware's realm of possibility.
"The question was with the salary cap stuff and everything, would you be able to maneuver some things in your contract. I said I’ll do what I need to do to help the team out. It’s nothing new to me. But pay cut and restructure are two different things. You hear what I’m saying. Clar-i-fy." - DeMarcus Ware
While it is certainly positive that DWare has expressed his willingness to work with the team in their annual salary cap tap dance, his contract brings with it a $16 million dollar cap hit in 2014, and getting out from under a portion of that would generate a huge sigh of relief from the Cowboys accounting staff. What is less clear is the looming question that must be asked by the front office "Is DeMarcus Ware still worth what he will cost the team or has the inevitable effect of time begun to take its toll and decreased his value to the team?"
The player, of course, views a less than productive 2013 season as an anomaly. His body has always responded in the past, and he sees no reason why it should not do so again. It is tough for him to imagine that the elbow, quad and back issues that helped limit him this season are now becoming a factor that will impact the rest of his career. Ware denies their long term impact.
"Not at all. Not at all. Like going back into training camp, I felt better than I have in a long time. Then the little injuries happen with the quad and your elbow and your back so you sit back and think about what can I do now this off-season to make sure this doesn’t happen again, because I know exactly where I can be and how I can play. Injuries took a toll on me a lot this season. But that’s no excuse because I got out there and played. I’ve got to figure out some way to get healthy this off-season for next season."
He has always been able to shake those issues during the off season, but as he approaches 32 years of age it will continue to get harder for his body to heal itself as time goes on. This year's six-sack total is likely closer to what fans can expect out of Ware going forward than are the recent seasons around the 20-sack level. With a base salary of $12.2 million next year, the Dallas Cowboys must ask themselves if they can afford to take a chance on paying somewhere in the vicinity of $2 million dollars per sack.
The answer, naturally, is a resounding "NO!" And that means that DeMarcus Ware might to have to decide if he wants to take a pay-cut and remain a Dallas Cowboy for life, or does he want to test the open market and spend the final years of his career in another uniform. For a brief moment, it looked to me like Ware had accepted the inevitable and was willing to do what was necessary to ensure that he plays his entire career as a Cowboy. He made it clear on Monday that he still feels capable of being the dominant pass rusher that we have come to expect, and that he expects to be paid like one.
Question to DeMarcus Ware last night was very specific about potential pay cut. Perhaps he changed mind after sleeping on it.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 30, 2013
More likely, I suspect that Ware spoke before speaking to his wife Taniqua, and he changed his mind after sleeping on the couch, but no matter. It looks like another offseason such as the one we faced with the Doug Free issue last year. I see no reason to feel that it will not be handled in the same professional manner, although similar results probably should not be expected.
While you cannot blame Ware for taking this stance, a player only has a limited time to get everything he can for his family, you also have to respect a front office for making a business decision that is in the best interests of the organization.
There are indications coming out of Valley Ranch that the organization, and Jerry Jones, realize that there are some tough choices about to be made, and although Ware was not mentioned specifically, it is obvious that his future is one of the ones that has to come under scrutiny.
Jerry: "We'll need to be pretty creative as to how we add some players...may have 2 make some tough decisions relative 2 some high salaries"— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 30, 2013
For the fans, football is a game; for the players and owners it is a business and their livelihood. Not all deals work out, but by realizing that it is simply business, both sides can walk away with no hard feelings and genuine respect for each other. Both sides have to act in their own best interests, and unfortunately, those interests do not always coincide, no matter how much we, as fans, may wish that they would.
Unless major concessions are made during this offseason, I suspect that in a couple seasons we will see DeMarcus Ware sign a one day contract to return "home" and retire as a Dallas Cowboy.