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DeMarcus Ware: Is It Time To Think The Unthinkable?

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Hall of Fame caliber athletes will remain at the top of their game throughout their career; have the Cowboys done just that with DWare?

Jeff Zelevansky

DeMarcus Ware: Former first-round draft pick, seven-time Pro Bowler, seven-time All-Pro (four-times first teamer), two-time NFL sack leader, future Hall of Famer. It is easy to think that he will somehow always come through for the Dallas Cowboys. Sadly, the reality differs; sometimes the human body decides that it has finally had enough and it is starting to become painfully obvious that Ware's body is there. As much as the Dallas Cowboys have depended on DWare over recent years, he has reached the point where the spirit is still willing, but the flesh is no longer able.

That is a point which Ware adamantly disputes.

“Ain’t nothing changed. I don’t feel like nothing has changed. It’s December. Its always a time when the lights come and you got to seperate [sic] yourself apart from everybody.” - DeMarcus Ware

Although the calender will tell you that he will be 32-years-old before the next season starts, Ware obviously believes that he is still the same guy who haunted the dreams of left tackles and quarterbacks during his mid to late 20's; the facts now tell a different story. After the age of 30, the years of wear and tear on a football player's body have started to take their inevitable toll, and he does not have the durability to go to war on snap after snap the way he could just a couple years before. For Ware, the numbers tell the tale. In conflict with his claim that December is the time for him "to light the fires" is the cold hard truth that over the last six December games, Ware has only managed to record a total of 2.5 sacks. Of course that decline is going to be attributed to injury, but that only serves to punctuate the point. As Ware ages, his body is going to wear down earlier and earlier in the season. In 2012, it was a torn labrum and and an elbow injury that hampered the second half of DWare's season. This year it was a history of "stingers" that limited his production in addition to a quadriceps injury that cost Ware to miss three games.

Since his return Ware has been ineffective. Unfortunately, the player does not yet see that his career is fading away.

“People can say what they want to say. Tell them to get in front of me and see if they can block me. Then we’ll go from there.”

As ESPN's Todd Archer points out, Ware has to face NFL left tackles, not critics. He hasn’t won nearly enough of those matchups on the field this season. Archer is not the only one in the media who is questioning just how much #94 has left in the tank. Asked yesterday about Ware's recent showings, Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin didn't pull any punches.

If that's a snapshot of the future, his Pro Bowl days are over. Players don't get better when they reach their 30s. Ware's best years are behind him. Yet the Cowboys still have him on the books financially as an impact player. The salary cap is a mess and that will impede this team's ability to compete going forward. - Rick Gosselin

Harsh, but true. As Gosselin stated, players, even legends, do not improve once they reach the back side of 30, they only decline before our eyes. As is often said, It is better to release a player a year too early rather than keep him around a year too long. Unfortunately that is something that is seldom seen in Dallas; Jerry Jones has a history of overpaying his aging talent. Far too often we here at Blogging The Boys have lamented this trend, and it would be hypocritical of us to make an exception even in the case of DeMarcus Ware.

In his situation, it is a contract that will count just over $16 million against the salary cap in 2014. That, my friends, is a whopping hit for someone who is showing major signs of decline. Ware's best days are behind him. Even if the Cowboys renegotiate, they are only postponing the inevitable. With the Dallas Cowboys consistently in salary cap hell, they cannot continue to pay for past production and hope to field a competitive team. Something has to give, and a large part of that starts with finding someone who can fill the shoes of DeMarcus Ware.

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