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Fake News: DeMarcus Ware Never Took Pay Cut from Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Fake News: DeMarcus Ware Never Took Pay Cut from Cowboys

Former Dallas Cowboys sack master DeMarcus Ware recently advised Dez Bryant that he should take a pay cut to help the Cowboys and remain on the team. Ware cited that other Dallas leaders such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and he had all done the same at certain points. One problem; none of that ever happened.

Ware said the following as part of a longer discussion on Dez's future in Dallas:

"With the $12 million that they owe him, $12.5 million for the next two years, you're going to have to take a pay cut to go and get the extra guys to help out your team and be that team player. I had to do it. Romo had to do it. Witten had to do it. All those guys have to do those things."

Even with our limited resources in our moms' basements, it didn't take much to debunk Ware's claim. Not only did DeMarcus never take a pay cut during his time with the Cowboys, but his refusal to do so was the exact reason why he ended up being released by Dallas and landing with the Denver Broncos in 2014.

Similarly, neither Romo or Witten have ever taken pay cuts. Even without Super Bowl rings, both were among the highest-paid players at their positions for the majority of their careers.

Perhaps Ware's comment was based on confusion, thinking about his deal being restructured rather than a true pay cut. All three players did restructure their contracts at numerous points, moving guaranteed money into later years to help create immediate cap space. This happens all the time in Dallas, with the most recent examples being our Pro Bowl offensive linemen.

But a restructure is NOT a pay cut. The total compensation does not change. All that changes is when paid bonus money is counted against the salary cap in each year of his contract. The player doesn't lose a dime in the end.

True pay cuts can happen. One occurred in 2013 when offensive tackle Doug Free agreed to a reduced overall salary to remain with the team and avoid being released. It happened again in 2016 when Brandon Carr took a salary reduction to stay in Dallas. These were not restructures; the players accepted lower salaries and overall compensation so they could keep being Cowboys.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant

This isn't to say that DeMarcus Ware is wrong about Dez Bryant. I agree that Bryant should take a pay cut given his performance level and effectiveness the last few seasons and what he projects to do going forward. Bryant is one of the most expensive receivers in the NFL and isn't giving the team the kind of franchise play that his salary suggests.

But Ware's inaccurate statement about his own history and that of other Cowboys figureheads needed to be challenged. DeMarcus was asking for Dez to do something that he and almost every other premiere player in the NFL would have, or actually have in Ware's case, refused to do.

Tom Brady signing a contract below market value is one thing. That is a new deal that he and the team agreed to in the interests of their mutual success. But asking Dez to accept a reduction on a contract he signed just two years ago with Dallas, based on his market value at that time, is a very different request.

If Ware was genuinely confused about a pay cut versus a restructuring, he should know that it's the Cowboys who've declined to move money around on Bryant's deal. They've kept his guaranteed amounts fixed to preserve leverage in case they do want to release him. Dez would happily take a restructure if it was offered; it increases his job security in later years.

So while larger media outlets are reporting Ware's advice to Dez as sage counsel from a Cowboys legend, don't believe the hype. Ware, Tony Romo, and Jason Witten never took the pay cuts that DeMarcus claimed. In fact, Ware specifically refused to do so when asked in 2014.

But what do I know? I'm just a blogger.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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8 Comments
  • Michael Hobock

    Really good info. Def a big diff in restructure vs pay cut. Agree that Bryant Should take a cut but i also think it’s clear that some of Dez’s issue is Dak. He doesn’t throw the deep ball well yet and doesn’t have the confidence to push the ball to dez when he’s covered like Romo would. Remember when the back shoulder throw was dynamite between Romo and dez? Dak and him need to get on same page.

    • kabob

      I think you’re still looking at the Romo years through rose-colored glasses. Or have you forgotten back-to-back-to-back 8-8 seasons and Romo only at his best when he threw less than 35 times a game? That that’s how he managed to keep the INTs below double-digits in 2014? Or that he was often inaccurate and forced throws to covered receivers? Romo was great but he was not a superior QB to Dak Prescott at the same point in their careers.

      • Michael Hobock

        Point I’m making isn’t about comparing dak and Romo. It’s about the usage of dez and his strengths vs weaknesses. Dak’s strengths aren’t in line with dez’s strengths. Romo was a better fit. Doesn’t mean dak can’t get better or they can’t get in better sync. Also, Romo didn’t throw a ton of picks. He had memorable games where he threw costly picks but his overall numbers were in line with other elite qbs. Misconception that always bothered me about Romo. He did more with less than a lot of others could have done

  • Troy M.

    It’s time to part ways with Dez. He isn’t worth the dollars he get’s, end of story. He drops n awful lot of balls, starting to remind me of Austin Miles. He is also a bit of a cancer on the sidelines, makes one wonder what it’s like in the locker-room.

    • Michael Hobock

      Dropped balls and unpolished route running are certainly blemishes on him but gotta remember that it isn’t easy to just go get a top end WR. Dak also has to bear some responsibility. He has to improve. If dez us willing to take a pay cut it would be worth it to keep him especially if he and dak and get on same page.

      • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog fgoodwin

        Agreed Michael. I’m firmly in the camp that Dez is not worth his contract. But how do we replace him? “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”.

  • Adam Mwakikoti

    Dak isn’t seasoned yet. This is what happens when you have a young QB. Is Dez as good as he was, no, but much of that is the guy throwing him the ball.

  • Jimmy Smith

    Dez is no DW and needs to move on. We need a WE1 whose biggest claim to fame is not dropping balls

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys 2018 Breakout Candidates: TE Geoff Swaim

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines -  76

For the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, the retirement of Tight End Jason Witten was one of the biggest developments of the offseason. It leaves a gaping hole in their offense, and no major free agent or high draft pick was added as a clear replacement. As such, fourth-year veteran Geoff Swaim may be in line for a breakout season.

A seventh-round pick in 2015, Swaim has stuck in Dallas with strong run-blocking and special teams play. His offensive production has been limited to just nine catches and 94 yards, thanks largely to the stranglehold that Witten kept on the TE position. Geoff has only been targeted 11 times in the passing game over three seasons.

But with Witten leaving, as well as veteran backup James Hanna, Swaim is now the elder statesman of the TE group. Even his limited playing time in the NFL thus far puts him way ahead of Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, or rookie Dalton Schultz.

Based on reports from the offseason practices and camps, Geoff is getting the first crack at becoming the new starter. It makes sense given his experience edge, but also his proficiency as a run blocker.

The Cowboys will likely lean on Ezekiel Elliott heavily this year, particularly early in the season. The passing game will need time to find itself with Witten and Dez Bryant gone. They'll want to ease Dak Prescott into heavier workloads as he and his new receiving options get acclimated.

Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim

Geoff Swaim will be one of those new options. And even though his reputation is for blocking, don't take that to mean he's not athletic.

We've seen Swaim on the move as a blocker and also in the passing game, and he's certainly got some wheels. That could make him a deceptive weapon on play-action and other passing plays out of running formations.

In some ways, losing Witten and Bryant makes the Cowboys' offense less predictable than in the past. Defenses will be less sure who to focus on, and that also creates opportunities for the new receivers.

Obviously, Swaim's breakout potential is dependent on Prescott looking his way. But unless Dak has undergone a major change in his playing style, a TE working in the short and middle parts of the field is someone he'll rely on plenty.

With training camp and preseason still to come, calling Geoff the starter right now is just an assumption. There is still time for one of the other prospects to impress and climb the ladder.

But right now, there's clearly no better candidate to claim the spot than Swaim. He has the most critical skill as a blocker, and his potential in the passing game is underrated. It's his job to lose.

The guy with only nine career catches could get that in a single game this year. Therefore, Geoff Swaim is clearly one of the major breakout candidates for the 2018 Cowboys.



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys 2018 Breakout Candidates: LB Jaylon Smith

Jess Haynie

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#DALvsIND: 5 Cowboys Storylines To Watch In Preseason Week 2 1

No single player on the Dallas Cowboys roster right now may be more primed for a breakout season than Linebacker Jaylon Smith. His ascension as a player isn't just a big gain for the Cowboys defense, but it may be vital to their success in 2018.

Smith joined the Cowboys as a high second-round pick (34th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. Potentially a top-five elite talent in that class, Jaylon's stock fell after a severe knee injury in his final college game. It was unknown if he could ever play football again, but Dallas took the risk based on Smith's incredible upside.

After Jaylon sat out his rookie year to fully rehab. In 2017, he was able to play all 16 games and started in six. That alone was a huge win for Smith and the Cowboys.

Jaylon's performance last year wasn't great,  but understandably so after all the missed time. He also had to regain confidence in his knee, which is critical for a linebacker with all of the directional changes during plays.

Still, Smith got better as the season went. And even amidst the struggles, there were flashes of his instincts and potential.

This offseason, reports of Jaylon's improving health are fueling increased optimism. He is now playing without a knee brace and that means more confidence. If Smith fully trusts his body now, it will make him far more dangerous on the field.

5 Positives for Cowboys Heading Into the Off-Season

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

With Anthony Hitchens leaving in free agency, Dallas needs Jaylon to be a bigger factor this year. If he doesn't take the next step, it could leave the Cowboys vulnerable at linebacker in 2018.

True, Dallas drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of last April's draft. But it's always dangerous to ask a rookie to do heavy lifting, and especially one who is seen as a raw talent like Vander Esch.

Ideally, anything Dallas gets from Leighton this year will be gravy. Their goal is to rely on veteran Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, with Damien Wilson also available as a solid fallback option.

But when you mention Sean Lee, you have to mention health concerns. After two encouragingly healthy seasons in 2015 and 2016, Lee was back to having some issues last year and missed five games.

That is all the more reason why Dallas needs Jaylon to be ready for more this year. If Lee misses time again, Smith is the best suited to take over the roles that Sean leaves behind.

Thankfully, all signs point to big things for Jaylon Smith in 2018. His body appears healed and there's no questioning his work ethic and desire. If the mental aspect of football has also developed, he could be everything the Cowboys hoped when they drafted them.



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Player News

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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