By Shawn Lealos
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Defensive end DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 29, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

(Credit, Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

DeMarcus Ware is the best defensive player the Dallas Cowboys have had in years. This season, he broke the Cowboys career record for sacks, passing Harvey Martin. He has also never missed a game due to injury until this past weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, despite being one of the finest physical specimens on the Cowboys squad, some believe he might be breaking down.

Ware is on the wrong side of 30, and in the NFL, that means his body will start breaking down. There is a lot of punishment a 25-year-old can take and bounce back from. When a 31-year-old player—one who has been in the trenches his entire career—starts suffering injuries, it is harder to bounce back.

Another older former Cowboys defensive star learned that the hard way. Jay Ratliff was supposed to be a star in the new 4-3 defense in Dallas, but he couldn’t heal up from his injuries and Dallas finally gave up and waived their former All-Pro defensive lineman.

Anthony Spencer was the Cowboys most explosive defensive player in 2012, but he is now on the IR, and at the age of 29, Dallas is considering letting him go rather than re-signing him in 2014.

Could DeMarcus Ware be the next to go? He has a quad strain right now and has been suffering recently from back problems caused by one too many stingers in his career. This week, Jerry Jones said that he will probably miss his second game in a row when Dallas plays the Detroit Lions.

Jones said that there is no tear and no imperfection, but if the Cowboys rush back Ware too soon, it could cause an imperfection and cost him way more time. That means the Cowboys have to be patient with their pass rusher, because causing more damage could end his career in Dallas.

The Cowboys have a problem in 2014 and look to be over $20 million over the salary cap heading into the season. Honestly, that should be easy to fix by re-structuring Tony Romo and Jason Witten’s contracts and letting Miles Austin go. With Terrance Williams’ impressive play, Austin is probably playing out his final year in Dallas. However, DeMarcus Ware could be a money saver as well if he really is breaking down.

No Cowboys fan wants to see Ware go. That would be like watching Randy White or Harvey Martin play for another team, but it happens. Leon Lett played one season in Denver before retiring after Dallas cut ties with him. People move on. Ware will always be a Cowboy to many fans, but how much more does he have left in his tank?

The best case scenario is that DeMarcus Ware sits out until his body is ready for him to return. Then he comes back and plays stronger than ever. Hard, strong play is the best way to convince Dallas that money invested in him is well spent. It’s better to lose Ware for three or four games, than to lose him for good.

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.