I can already feel you yelling at me based off of the title. Relax.
DeMarcus Ware was a great member of the Dallas Cowboys right up until the end when things just weren’t working out. It was rough for Cowboys Nation loyalists to see D-Ware leave, but that’s the business side of football and considering what Ware did five days ago I think he’s good.
Where DeMarcus might not be good is in fiscal books of the Denver Broncos and their 2016 season. ‘Ol #94 has a $11,666,668 Cap Number (per OverTheCap.com) for the 2016 season. That’s a lot of pennies to pay someone considering that the Broncos have a ton of free agency decisions to make this offseason – like re-signing Super Bowl 50 MVP, Von Miller.
All of this is pretty common sense so people are starting to connect the dots (sidebar: Dots are one of the worst candies out there) and some hypotheticals where Ware returns back home to Dallas have been tossed out.
D-Ware is coming off of one of the finer months that he’s ever had in his career. His performance in the Playoffs is a big reason why every hand inside the Denver Broncos organization got that much heavier last Sunday evening out in Santa Clara. Naturally, if he is to become available, some people want him back.
People… stop it.
DeMarcus is one of the finer Dallas Cowboys to have played over the last 20 years (a period I recently, and sadly, examined on a deep level). He will also be 34 years old when the 2016 season kicks off. That’s really young in terms of the schemes of life, but that’s not the case in the National Football League.
Ware dominated the Super Bowl, but let’s look at a larger sample size. Here are his numbers in terms of sacks and tackles (that’s what you pay pass rushers to get) over the last three regular seasons, a 48-game span:
|DeMarcus Ware (33 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Ware has only played in 40 of these games, averaging .59 sacks/game and 2.05 tackles/game. Let’s see how he compares to to some other potential pass rushers that the Dallas Cowboys could bring in over the same span.
All of these numbers are pulled from Pro Football Reference. If you are unfamiliar with their Approximate Value (AV) metric, it is an attempt to put a single numerical value on a player’s season. The greater the number, the greater that particular season for that player. Ware’s 2013-2015 are the three lowest Approximate Values of his career excluding his rookie season.
|Greg Hardy (27 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Re-signing Greg Hardy is an option that the Cowboys have this offseason. Consider that Hardy is averaging just a half sack per year less than Ware over the last three seasons despite only playing one game in 2014. Hardy played in 29 games over this stretch (out of a possible 29, so he hasn’t missed any due to injury) and posted Ware-like numbers over the same sample. Factor in that Hardy is six years younger and you have to start thinking, don’t you?
Hardy’s AV for 2013 was the highest of his career and 2015 (which some would say was disappointing for him) matches his second best. 2014 is an obvious outlier given that he only played one game.
|Olivier Vernon (25 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Now Olivier is likely going to command a nice chunk of change in free agency, and there’s a reason that he should. While he might be more expensive than someone else, when you consider his youth you have to wonder if he’s worth it. One of the bigger pieces of data that isn’t stated above is that Vernon played all 48 of these games, so he’s a pretty consistently healthy player.
It shouldn’t be shocking that these three seasons are the three best Approximate Values of Olivier’s four-year career.
|Mario Williams (31 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Super Mario has only missed one game over these last three seasons, and he averages the most sacks per season. He had a down year in 2015 despite having Rex Ryan as a Head Coach, and while Rex is really dysfunctional in a lot of ways he definitely knows how to build a defense and rush the quarterback. Nevertheless, Mario merits some serious consideration given his resume over this span.
Mario’s 2013 was at the time the best AV of his career until he topped it in 2014. His down 2015 is tied for the sixth best of his career.
So let’s look at all four of these players in terms of their averages over the last three seasons against one another:
|Scks/Season||Tckls/Season||Elig. Gms Missed|
First of all, when looking at Greg Hardy’s numbers remember that his 2014 season (where he only played in one game) is actually factored into these measurements. Even then, he’s still narrowly behind Ware in terms of his averages per season. Olivier and Mario are clearly a cut above the rest when it comes to sacks/season, but the biggest number that jumps out to me is the 8 for Ware.
Of the 48 possible games he has missed 8 – that’s 17%. Neither Hardy nor Vernon have missed a game where they were eligible to play, and Mario has only missed one (2%). So not only is Ware the oldest player, not only is Ware the one who barely averages more sacks and tackles per season than Hardy despite Hardy’s absence in 2014, but Ware is also the most likely to miss time during the season… 17% of the time to be specific.
I get that DeMarcus Ware has a history in Dallas and that it would be really cool for him to come home and teach the young guys, I get it. It’s a nice story.
But haven’t we moved on from chasing stories? Wasn’t that the whole point of not re-signing DeMarcus two years ago? It seems that we are allowing ourselves to be prisoners of the moment and ignore some indisputable facts.
The current regime of the Dallas Cowboys has made a commitment to building teams the right way – the smart way. If DeMarcus Ware is willing to sign for a lower amount of money then of course we should listen, but do you really think the guy who was 50% of the reason why his team just won the Super Bowl is about to reduce himself in any capacity? Would you?
It would be a great story if Ware came back to Dallas and we could put the whole thing together, but that’s not who we are anymore. We’re no longer the story chasers, we’re the Championship Chasers. Let’s remember that.