FRISCO, Texas – DeMarcus Ware ended the speculation about the next phase of his career and announced it himself on Monday afternoon.
In a heartfelt message, posted to his personal Twitter account, Ware announced his retirement from football:
The announcement bookends one of the best NFL careers in recent memory, and it also quells speculation about the possibility of Ware returning to the Cowboys for one last run.
"DeMarcus was everything we could have ever wanted in a player, a person and a representative of the Cowboys organization," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement. "He was one of the most dominant NFL players at his position in his era, and he was one of the most dynamic players in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. We wish nothing but the best for DeMarcus and his family, and we appreciate and respect his contributions to the NFL and to our team."
Ware recently hit the free agent market, having completed the three-year, $30 million contract he signed with the Denver Broncos in 2014. Given the Cowboys' obvious needs along the defensive line, there was plenty of reason to think Ware might return to the team that drafted him and provide a veteran presence in Dallas during the twilight days of his career.
Even if that idea never evolved into a reality, Ware never needed to play another snap in Dallas to cement his place in Cowboys history. He retires as the franchise's all-time leader in sacks, having posted 117 in nine seasons.
Combine that with his 21.5 sacks during his three years in Denver, and Ware has a career sack tally of 138.5 – good enough for eighth-best in NFL history.
Those numbers shouldn't be surprising to anyone who watched Ware's distinguished career. The Cowboys originally selected him No. 11 overall during the 2005 NFL Draft, and he immediately responded by posting eight sacks – the third-best effort by a rookie pass rusher in franchise history.
Ware played in Dallas for nine seasons, posting double-digit sacks in seven of those. He earned Pro Bowl honors nine times – seven selections with the Cowboys and two with the Broncos. He was also named a first-team All Pro on four occasions, from 2007-09 and again in 2011.
Not surprisingly, given those kinds of accolades, Ware was among the best pass rushers in the NFL during that time frame. He recorded 20 sacks during the 2008 season and 19.5 in 2011 – the second and third-best single-season efforts in Cowboys history, behind Harvey Martin's 23 in 1977.
Injuries and cap constraints prompted the Cowboys to make the difficult decision of releasing Ware following the 2013 season. The veteran pass rusher, who had not missed a game in his career, was forced out of three games during that final season in Dallas, finishing with just 40 tackles and six sacks.
The Cowboys released Ware on March 11, 2014, and he signed with Denver the following day. Over three seasons with the Broncos, he appeared in 37 games and notched 85 tackles to go along with his 21.5 sacks.
Ware was also instrumental in helping the Broncos secure a championship in Super Bowl 50. He tallied 10 tackles and 3.5 sacks during that playoff run – including two sacks of Cam Newton in the Broncos' 24-10 win against Carolina.
Ware heads into retirement as one of the most decorated players in Cowboys history, and as one of the greatest defenders in the history of the franchise.