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Cowboys Free Agent News: Big Name Cuts, Interest In Robert Ayers, Henry Melton

Free agency starts, and an era ends in Dallas.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

So if you thought free agency would be boring for the Dallas Cowboys because they were all trapped in cap hell and everything . . .

Source: Cowboys and DeMarcus Ware have agreed to a trial separation, not a divorce | Dallas Morning News

Don't put too much hope in this.

Ware and owner Jerry Jones met Tuesday at Valley Ranch in an attempt to avoid the player's release. That didn't happen. But a source with knowledge of the discussion said the two men parted with this understanding:

Ware knows to get the sort of contract he expects the offer will likely come in the first few days of free agency. If that offer doesn't come he has told the Cowboys he would be willing to return. The source said Ware also indicated that before he signs with another team he will inform the Cowboys of the offer.

The offers will come. And this is just both sides being courteous. There is virtually no chance DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys will get together again.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones makes difficult, but correct decision, to release DeMarcus Ware - ESPN Dallas

Unexpected praise from Jean-Jacques Taylor, who has been, shall we say, mildly critical of Jerry Jones in the past.

Maybe Jones is finally learning what it takes to do the job. Perhaps vice president Stephen Jones is influencing him more. Or Jason Garrett is chiming in.

Frankly, it doesn't matter.

Jones released aging, unproductive defensive tackle Jay Ratliff last season, as he should have. Ware is gone and receiver Miles Austin will soon join him. Jones should set a modest price for Hatcher, who had a career-high 11 sacks last year and made the Pro Bowl. If he accepts it, fine. If not, then let him leave. The same goes for Spencer.

The worst thing a GM can do in today's NFL is pay age. It just doesn't work because the game is too physical, too violent.

Broaddus: Even The Best Players Merit Tough Decisions

The message is couched a little differently, but it is the same: This was really the only intelligent move the Cowboys could make, given the situation, and no one can blame Ware for wanting to get paid as much as he can.

What we have all learned in this era of free agency is when you are talking about salary, performance and health this business can be very cut-and-dry. Nobody wants to see Ware walk out that door after what he has done for this organization over the years, but it is a business for both sides.

The front office felt strongly enough to go to one of their marquee players and request he take a pay cut. The player stood his ground and forced the hand of the organization, thus the club had no choice but to move on - business decision for both sides.

Eatman: Injured Guys Be-Ware Of Playing Hurt

Did Ware make a mistake by playing through his injuries rather than go on IR and try to get really healthy? It is a valid point, and one that others might want to consider.

But when it doesn't work out so well, playing hurt can be costly.

Ware is now proof of that.

This guy probably had no business playing the last few games of the 2012 season, but his team was in a playoff push. So he pushed along. He played with a bad back, a bad hamstring, a bad shoulder and two bad elbows. And guess what, he wasn't that great because of it.

Per PFT, the Broncos have already lined up a visit from Ware.

The Broncos get the first in-person crack at former Cowboys defensive end/linebacker DeMarcus Ware. But if the Broncos don't sign him, there are plenty of other takers.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, more than a dozen teams contacted Ware after the Cowboys cut him on Tuesday. Of those teams, six or seven made the playoffs in 2013.

Could Eagles make a play for former Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware? - ESPN

So Ware has to go somewhere, right? Just, please, let's hope it isn't here. Because, well, that would suck. Big time. Despite the scheme fit and the fact there is a logical player for him to replace on the Iggles' roster.

The Eagles play a 3-4, which might be a better fit for Ware than playing defensive end in a 4-3. They have Trent Cole playing outside linebacker and he had eight sacks in 2013, but he seems to be more of a defensive end playing outside linebacker than a true outside linebacker.

Here, let me give you a nice visual aid for that (those with weak stomachs are advised to avert your eyes).

While we are checking Twitter, word is Ware is likely to see some offers shortly.

And meanwhile, another Cowboy may wind up elsewhere.

Source: Dallas Cowboys have expressed interest in Denver Broncos free agent DE Robert Ayers | Dallas Morning News

Of course, Dallas is going to be in the market for a replacement. One name that I hadn't seen before has popped up.

And, according to a source, they've already expressed interest in Denver Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers, one of the top edge rushers still on the market as an unrestricted free agent.

This would fit in with a strategy of going for serviceable but reasonably priced free agents. He is already 29, though, so this would certainly be a short term plug-in.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton may visit Cowboys - ESPN Dallas

This name we have been hearing a lot, thanks to the time Henry Melton had under Rod Marinelli, current Cowboys defensive coordinator, while both were with the Chicago Bears.

Last season for the Chicago Bears, Melton played in just three games before suffering his knee injury. In 2012, Melton was selected to the Pro Bowl while playing for then-defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

Now Marinelli is the Cowboys defensive coordinator, and if Melton's health checks out it could be a good fit.

That health question is, of course, big, but it could keep the price down enough to make him a bargain.

Cowboys Corner: Top pass-rushers Ware, Peppers and Allen all looking for new deals

The Cowboys aren't the only team that has moved on from a big-time pass rusher.

With the Cowboys releasing DeMarcus Ware and the Bears releasing Julius Peppers, three of the top four active sack leaders are on the market.

Jared Allen, also a free agent, has 128.5 career sacks, ranking him 12th in NFL history.

Now I just want to know how many people are calling the Bears and the Vikings stupid for their moves.

Cowboys Corner: Pressure on the Cowboys to draft well along the defensive line

Although I think there might have been just a tad before today, as well.

But Dallas, which had only 34 sacks last season, is even worse along the defensive line now than it was last season after releasing DeMarcus Ware on Tuesday.

The Cowboys also could lose three-technique Jason Hatcher, the best player on their defensive line last season and their sacks leader with 11, though their chances of keeping him went up with Ware's release. Defensive end Anthony Spencer, who played only 34 snaps last season before having microfracture surgery on his knee, also could find more money elsewhere.

It is not a totally unexpected turn of events. While it was unpleasant to consider, most had to realize that this was a possibility, and the team certainly did.

One last Tweet to make you go "Aw, crud."

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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