As Cowboys fans prepare to see one iconic player leave the team this offseason, perhaps another might return. It was reported today by Clarence Hill that free agent DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys’ all-time sack leader, is considering a return to Dallas.
Ware has spent the last three years with the Denver Broncos since Dallas made him a salary cap casualty after the 2013 season. As many Cowboys fans hoped for, DeMarcus finally got a Super Bowl ring during his Broncos tenure.
It hasn’t all been pleasant for Ware in Denver, though. He has missed 15 regular-season games over the last three years with various injuries. Health issues, plus the fact he turns 35 this July, are major red flags for any team looking at Ware in free agency.
That said, DeMarcus still had 21.5 sacks during the last three seasons. Even the four sacks he had last year, in just eight games, is better average production than any Cowboys defensive lineman in 2016. Benson Mayowa led the team with six sacks in 13 games played.
There would be legitimate concern about DeMarcus Ware’s ability to contribute in Dallas given the lack of supporting talent. He was part of arguably the league’s best defense in Denver, enjoying decreased attention thanks to guys like Von Miller and Derek Wolfe. At this age and stage, could Ware really provide the kind of catalytic spark that the Cowboys’ defensive line sorely needs?
It’s also worth nothing that Ware has always been better playing in 3-4 schemes, be it in Dallas or Denver, than the 4-3 defense. He had just six sacks in 2013, the year after Dallas fired Rob Ryan and brought in Monte Kiffin. DeMarcus did play hurt much of that season, though.
With the Cowboys currently having just over $3 million in cap space, money is going to be a huge factor in any free agent deal. The minimum salary for a 13-year veteran is an even $1 million. Dallas can’t afford to pay Ware much more than that to return.
Having made plenty of money over his career, DeMarcus will hopefully have other priorities as he looks for his next team. The chance to have a Dallas homecoming and contend for a Super Bowl work very well in the Cowboys’ favor. Will they be enough to entice Ware?
The real question, though, is if 35-year-old DeMarcus Ware will really do much to improve the Cowboys pass rush. His return would be a wonderful story, but with what result?