Debate Team: Should The Cowboys Sign D-Ware?

Each week writers Matt Galatzan and Matthew Postins debate a topic pertinent to the Dallas Cowboys. Today … Should Dallas sign DeMarcus Ware?

Should the Dallas Cowboys bring DeMarcus Ware back in 2016, and if so, under what contract terms?

Matt Galatzan: There are a lot of things about DeMarcus Ware to like. For starters, he’s a great locker-room guy, and a leader on the field. He’s proven when healthy, that even at the age of 34, he can be a productive pass rusher on the field from his 3-4 outside linebacker spot. Finally, he’s still beloved among the majority of Cowboys fans, and more than likely by the guys he played with when he was with the Cowboys.

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In his three years in Denver opposite Von Miller, Ware amassed 21.5 sacks, 63 tackles, and 27 tackles for loss. Not too bad for a second or third pass-rush option in a predominantly young defense, right?

That being said, I would avoid Ware at all costs if I’m the Dallas Cowboys, even at the veteran’s minimum.

Beyond the fact that he hasn’t played as a 4-3 defensive end once in his NFL career, his injury concerns are far too glaring to warrant serious consideration for his services. Back problems, especially at his age, and especially in a game like football, are a major red flag.

As Fish detailed in his D-Ware piece on Wednesday, there may be issues beyond that of just the disk problem. There is a school of thought that Ware may have a ‘strength issue’ that is unrecoverable, according to sources.

If the Cowboys want to upgrade their pass rush, which they surely do, I think there are more realistic options out there than a 35-year-old guy coming off of back surgery and the worst statistical season of his career. For starters, guys like Mario Addison or (if they can spend the money) Jason Pierre-Paul would make much more sense to me. (Again, money is the obstacle here.)

But ultimately, the best way for the Cowboys to get better rushing the passer, considering the relatively weak free-agent class, is to do it in the draft. Guys like Takk McKinley, Carl Lawson, or even a risk like Tim Williams all make more sense to me than Ware. 

Matthew Postins: I think I made my perspective clear earlier this week in Twitter:

I certainly must acknowledge the points Matt G. made about Fish’s article earlier this week about the nature of Ware’s injuries that forced him to end his 2016 season. If the belief is that Ware has lost strength, even with the repaired disc in his back, that would certainly give me pause if I were in the Cowboys’ shoes.

But I might still pull the trigger, and it has little to do with sentiment.

One thing I’ve learned in covering and following the NFL for more than a decade is that elite players tend to be productive longer than average players. We’ve seen this in Ware, who as Matt G. pointed out had 21.5 sacks in three seasons in Denver. To put that in perspective, only one Cowboys pass rusher in the past three seasons has exceeded Ware’s average of seven sacks per season in Denver — Demarcus Lawrence, who had eight in 2015.

So I’m not looking for Ware to be the elite, double-digit sack guy that he was a few years ago. I just need him to be what he was in Denver, a six- or seven-sack guy who can supplement what the Cowboys already have, which frankly isn’t that much. The Cowboys likely wouldn’t play him as much more than a third-down pass rusher, meaning they can limit his exposure to injury.

I’m on board with signing him, but only at the veteran minimum, and this is important when considering how the Cowboys will go about improving their defensive line in 2017. The Cowboys likely won’t be big spenders in free agency, even if they clear cap space. If the past is any indication they’ll look for pass-rushing help in the draft. They expect Lawrence to be completely healthy after a banged up 2016. They’re hopeful that Charles Tapper, their fourth-round pick last year, will be healthy for 2017. David Irving and Benson Mayowa are expected back, too. So adding Ware at a veteran minimum improves their defensive line and doesn’t dampen their flexibility when it comes to adding help at the position.

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I realize there are potential pitfalls in signing Ware. But his talent and leadership in a young Cowboys locker room, in my opinion, is worth the gamble.

So, there you go. Agree? Disagree? Hit the message boards and discuss.

Matt Galatzan and Matthew Postins write for Contact Matt G at @MattGalatzan and Matthew P. at @PostinsPostcard.

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