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Could DeMarcus Ware Be An Option For Cowboys In 2016?

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Depending on the decision the Cowboys make regarding the return of controversial pass rusher Greg Hardy, the team could be back on the market for a free agent pass rusher. Could a familiar face be the answer they are looking for?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2014 off-season, the Cowboys front office made the difficult decision to release one of the most iconic players in the team's recent history, when they terminated the contract of DeMarcus Ware. Only a few days later, Ware signed a three year, $30 million contract with the Denver Broncos as part of a string of high profile free agent signings by Denver following their loss to Seattle in Super Bowl 48. Although the face value of the contract was three years and $30 million, a quick look at the breakdown, courtesy of overthecap.com reveals a slightly different story.

As you can see, all of Ware's guaranteed money came due in 2014-2015. And while he had fairly manageable cap numbers in those years, his 2016 his cap number jumps to over $11.6 million, including a $3 million roster bonus due the fifth day of the 2016 league year. Due to the small prorated signing bonus, Ware can be released before that roster bonus is due, and Denver can save a full $10 million against their cap. Considering the fact that the Broncos are likely to move on from the other veteran leader of their team in Peyton Manning, and the fact that Von Miller is up for a new contract starting in 2016, it is likely that Denver looks to 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray, or 2014 undrafted free agent Shaquil Barrett to fill the role opposite Miller for a smaller cap number than Ware's.

With Ware potentially available, it is worth asking whether he might come back to the Cowboys to finish his career in Dallas. There are a few benefits to bringing the future Hall of Famer back to the team that drafted him.

First of all, in the last two years in Denver, Ware has played in 27 of 32 potential regular season games, and registered 17.5 sacks. That is the type of bona fide pass rush production that the Cowboys need to find to take their defense from good to great in 2016. Additionally, but of no less importance, the Cowboys happen to have two young promising defensive ends, in Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence who are both at points in their career where a vet of Ware's quality could have an extremely positive impact both on and off the field.

Considering the fact that Ware has played the last two years for under $10 million per year, it is likely he could be had for an affordable amount in a way that mitigates the risk of injury, but maximizes his potential impact on the field and in the locker room as the Cowboys look to add playmakers to their defense.