Cowboys Free Agency Rumors: What Would DeMarcus Ware Be Worth On The Open Market?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The countdown is on to the official start of free agency, meaning actual signings. As we wait, we wonder what DeMarcus Ware's worth is on the open market?

The Dallas Cowboys and DeMarcus Ware are trying to work out a deal on a new contract that will involve a pay cut. At least that's what we've been told. It will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition, because the only way it could is if Ware thinks the amount he's offered is at least somewhat in line with what top defensive ends are getting in the free agent market. Otherwise, he'd probably just tell the Cowboys to cut him so he can go out and test the market.

There have been, or will be shortly, a few big-money contracts handed out to young and veteran defensive ends already. And they portend bad news for Ware if he thinks he can command anything close to $12.25 million for 2014 in the open market. Once Greg Hardy was franchised, the two big names dominating the defensive end free agent market were Michael Bennett and Michael Johnson.

Bennett's deal:

League sources confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Bennett signed a four-year, $28.5 million deal, with $16 million guaranteed.

Bennett will make $10 million in the first year, $6 million in the second year, $5 million in the third year and $7.5 million in the final year.

Johnson's deal (as yet unsigned but reported):

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to sign defensive end Michael Johnson to a five-year contract worth $43.75 million with $24 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson. That deal has not been announced and can't be made official until 4:00 PM ET today, when free agency officially opens.

We don't know how Johnson's deal is structured yet, but on average Bennett got $7.125 per year and Johnson is getting $8.75 million per year. And these guys are younger and healthier than Ware. Granted, Johnson had a down year in 2013 but this is the top end of the defensive end free agent market. Also, Everson Griffen signed back with the Vikings for 5 years at $42.5 million. That's an average of $8.5 million.

This makes it very doubtful Ware could get anything close to the $12.25 million he is scheduled to make in 2014. We'll see what happens, but it's likely Ware will have to take a pay cut from someone, either the Cowboys or an unknown team in free agency. He might as well stay in Dallas if the terms are reasonable.

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