IRVING, Texas (105.3 THE FAN) – “Paycut or Be Cut.’’
It seems an inglorious way for the Dallas Cowboys to part ways with the iconic DeMarcus Ware, but sources tell me that Dallas took that exact position with the future Hall-of-Famer, that Ware refused to budge from his present $12.25 million base salary, and that the Cowboys have therefore decided to release him outright.
Sources say both parties worked through the weekend in search of a compromise that would cut Ware’s $16-million cap impact in half. But the only real progress from those talks came in the form of Ware’s side leaking to the media the concept of an artificial deadline of 3 p.m. Tuesday – the beginning of the NFL year.
The Cowboys operated under no such deadline, as Ware is under contract. But by releasing him, they will gain $7.4 million of cap space. So while (when the transaction becomes official) Ware can now hit the open market to sell himself, Dallas can do the same in an effort to shop for his replacement or other defensive-line help.
Dallas entered Tuesday at $2 million under the cap and by increasing that to about $9.4 million, can intensify talks with its own free-agent defensive lineman Jason Hatcher (and, to a lesser degree, Anthony Spencer). Others, like Chicago’s Henry Melton, can also be in play.
Ware retains star quality but last season, as a leader of the NFL’s poorest defense, he recorded just six sacks. His 117 career sacks are the most in franchise history and he was a perennial Pro Bowler. But Ware turns 32 in July and has undergone surgery in each of the last two offseasons.
He will, people at Valley Ranch hope, be a Cowboy again – when it’s time to induct him into the Ring of Honor.
But as of today, he is being told he’ll be an ex-Cowboy, the result of a philosophy of wishing to avoid “paying age’’ and the result of a negotiation that came down to “Pay Cut or Be Cut.’’
“A decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone player in the history of your franchise, is extremely difficult,” said Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones via press release from the team.
“After meeting this afternoon, DeMarcus and I agreed on an understanding that would allow him to explore the options he will have for the 2014 season and beyond. We were also in very strong agreement that playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both be exploring.”
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