IRVING, Texas — According to reports on Tuesday, the Dallas Cowboys made an offer to defensive end DeMarcus Ware to accept a pay cut for the 2014 season. The terms of the pay cut were undisclosed, but the front office doesn’t want Ware to count $16 million against this year’s salary cap.
Last year, Dallas made a similar offer to right tackle Doug Free. The offensive lineman raked in a lucrative contract extension entering the 2011 season. However, he failed to live up to his contract as quarterback Tony Romo suffered broken ribs and ran for his life the following two seasons. The Cowboys approached Free in the 2013 off-season asking him to accept a pay cut. Many speculated he would be a June 1 cut if he did not accept the terms. Free chose a dock in pay to stay in Dallas and had a successful 2013 campaign.
Just like last off-season with Doug Free, the Cowboys front office is the entity with all of the bargaining power in these Ware negotiations, and the success of the Doug Free pay cut experiment only gives them more credence.
If Ware chooses to go down that road, refuse the pay cut and be released, the market will dictate his worth, which could be less than the $16 million he wants. Now, he would be taking less money in a new city. Is that an outcome Ware is willing to risk?
Aside from the loyalty angle and Ware’s endearment to the fans, do the Cowboys really need the outside linebacker-turned-defensive end? He has only produced 17.5 sacks in two seasons. That’s not worth $16 million. Cutting Ware saves the club $7.4 million, putting them $6 million under the cap. Cutting reserve center Phil Costa and flipping the switch on Witten and Carr’s contracts would give the Cowboys capital to make a run for Chicago defensive tackle Henry Melton while retaining Jason Hatcher and gambling on defensive end Anthony Spencer’s recovery. Designating wide receiver Miles Austin a June 1 cut gives Dallas $5.5 million, just enough to sign their 2014 rookie class which could include Ware’s replacement.
Now, let us go down the road of Ware taking a pay cut similar to what Doug Free took last off-season. Going from $16 million to $8 million gives Dallas $7 million in cap space. It’s virtually the same scenario they would be in if they released Ware. Now, they can take a chance on a Ware returning to form while adding the same quality defensive line depth mentioned in the above paragraph.
The date to make a decision on DeMarcus Ware is next Tuesday. Either way, the Dallas Cowboys win.