Cowboys release franchise sacks leader Ware
IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are moving on without franchise
sacks leader DeMarcus Ware.
Now they have to figure out how to rebuild their defensive line.
The Cowboys released Ware on Tuesday, a salary cap move that owner
Jerry Jones called "extremely difficult" after the worst season of the
star pass rusher's career. Ware broke Harvey Martin's 30-year-old
franchise record for sacks in 2013, but got to the quarterback a
career-low six times and missed games for the first time in his
nine-year career with a thigh injury.
The 31-year-old Ware also had offseason elbow surgery and was set to
count $16 million against the salary cup. Negotiations on a reduced
salary failed, so his release saves about $7.4 million and gives Dallas
about $9 million to spend at the moment.
"A decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone player in
the history of your franchise, is extremely difficult," Jones, also the
team's general manager, said in a statement announcing the decision
just as free agency opened. "We were also in very strong agreement that
playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would
both be exploring."
Still, Ware has likely played his last down for an owner who always had
a tough time letting aging superstars go.
Without Ware and with 2013 team sacks leader Jason Hatcher already
headed for free agency, all the projected starters from a year ago are
gone from a defense that gave up the most yards in franchise history
and finished last in the league in total defense. Rod Marinelli is
taking over for the demoted Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator after
both joined the staff last year. Marinelli was in charge of the
injury-riddled front last season.
Anthony Spencer, who like Ware had to make the transition to defensive
end in a four-man defensive front, missed almost all of last season
with a knee injury and is a free agent. Dallas released defensive
tackle Jay Ratliff in the middle of last season.
Nick Hayden signed as a free agent last year to be a backup but ended
up starting all 16 games because of injuries and the uncertainty
The most accomplished player on the Cowboys' defensive front right now
is George Selvie, who wasn't even on the roster when training camp
started last year. Dallas added him when injuries hit.
The switch away from a 3-4 defense forced Ware to play with his hand on
the ground closer to the offensive line rather than a stand-up outside
linebacker who could get a faster start on the snap.
Still, Ware looked good in training camp and even intercepted a pass by
Eli Manning on the first play of last season. But he never did find his
form as a pass rusher after fading late in 2012 and finished third on
the team in sacks behind Hatcher and Selvie.
"DeMarcus Ware, through his performance on the field and his
outstanding character, is someone who is held in the highest regard
within the Dallas Cowboys family," Jones said in the statement. "He is
worthy of our greatest respect, and we want what is best for him and
A first-round pick under coach Bill Parcells in 2005, Ware finished
with 117 sacks, three more than Martin. He set a club record with 20
sacks in 2008 during a seven-year streak of at least 10 sacks per
season. The four-time All-Pro is ninth in club history with 710 tackles.
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Cowboys Move On Without Ware
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