For the past three seasons, Broncos fans were witness to one of the best pass-rushing duos in league history — outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. Ware has been instrumental in the maturation of Miller, as well, helping him morph from a mercurial, unrealized talent into a Super Bowl MVP.
Leaving the Dallas Cowboys as the team's all-time sack leader, the Denver Broncos signed Ware among worries about his advancing age and injury problems. But Ware has been everything the Broncos could have asked for.
From his play on the field, the leadership he brings in the locker room and a presence that is intangibly felt by his teammates, Ware has more than lived up to his contract. Denver goes into this offseason on the heels of a disappointing 9-7 year with questions on the horizon about which personnel will be returning and which will be leaving.
With improvements needed at defensive tackle, offensive line and linebacker, should the team look into bringing back Ware for next season? Here's a look at the pros and cons of bringing back the future Hall-of-Famer.
Entering the twilight of his career, there are things that Ware doesn’t do as well as he did earlier in his career. That being said, the leadership he provides hasn’t been affected by his diminishing physical attributes.
For a defense that figures to get younger again in the offseason, it doesn’t hurt to have one more adult around keeping the kids in check.
Ware didn’t have his best statistical season this year with injuries only allowing him to play in 10 games, resulting in only four sacks. But looking at the first two games of the year, Ware did not look like a player on the decline.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1744160-film-room-should-forsett-... Tallying two sacks through the first two games, while still showing the explosive first step, Ware was in line for another good season — providing he he could keep the injury bug at bay. We all know what happened next.
The nine-time Pro Bowler suffered a broken forearm, and later a back injury, that derailed his season.
Ware can still be a contributor on the defense, albeit in a role more tailored to be a pass-rush specialist. The “NASCAR” front four that the Broncos defense deployed on obvious passing downs would be bolstered by having a fresh Ware coming in for 10-15 plays a game.
The question would be; at what financial cost?
With young players like Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett poised for more time on the field, Ware can still be a positive factor in their development as a mentor. Von Miller has spoken at length that aside from helping him off the field, Ware has been instrumental in refining the rougher aspects of his technique.
As long as it doesn’t break the bank or come at the cost of his health, it makes a lot of sense to keep Ware in the fold for at one more season.
Let Him Walk
The old saying that Father Time is undefeated is a sobering reminder that all of our favorites will reach that point when their bodies simply can’t keep up with their dogged determination.
It’s true tha a fresh and rested Ware looked like the player of old in the first two games of the season before that broken arm cost him five games. Coming back from that injury, Ware looked simply old.
His acceleration off the edge was gone. The ability to go to second and third moves to beat opposing blockers was non-existent. In Ware’s return from that injury, he failed to make an impact on the defense and gave way to Ray and Barrett often.
In fact, Denver's loyalty to Ware — especially Wade Phillips' soft spot — may have had a direct correlation to him getting hurt to begin with, as the 34-year-old sack master logged major minutes early on at the expense of the promising younger players the team has in reserve.
In his first season seeing major action, Shane Ray finished second on the team with eight sacks. Shaq Barrett showed plenty of promise in Ware’s absence. Those opportunities for younger guys to impact games don’t exist with Ware on the team.
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It’s cold and callous, but football is a young man’s game. With several players champing at the bit to get on the field, it’s never easy to say goodbye to a genuine good guy like Ware. Time marches on and waits for no man, though, not even the great ones like No. 94.
Ware has already made his intentions known that he would like to continue playing next season. Knowing the kind of dedication Ware has to keeping his body in shape, it’s likely he'll be in phenomenal physical condition for any number of potential suitors. But that persistent back injury is a major concern.
Depending on who will be coaching the Broncos in 2017 and beyond remains to be seen. Whomever is calling the shots will also have an impact on whether the front office decides to bring an older player like Ware back.
With that in mind, Ware can still be a contributor in the right situations, while still being a mentor to the younger players on the defense, both on and off the field. In the locker room atmosphere, it never hurts having a veteran leader like Ware to keep players accountable.
Free agency always reveals teams willing to throw around ludicrous amounts money at players. If both sides were amicable to a one-year high-incentive deal, it makes a lot of sense to see DeMarcus Ware finish out his playing days in Orange and Blue.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.
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