IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' front office still believes DeMarcus Ware can get back to being the player everyone saw dominate at training camp before the 2013 season.
For the second straight year, Ware, who will turn 32 years old before the start of the upcoming season, dealt with a medley of injuries that halted his production from the midway point of the season through the rest of the year.
He'll be a topic of debate when the Cowboys turn the page more fully from assistant coaching searches to player restructures and cuts. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones said at the Senior Bowl he doesn't regret avoiding draft picks on the defensive line last year, considering he thought that whole group would look different going into the season prior to injuries.
He also said nothing's been decided yet regarding Ware's contract and that it's hard to know if age is catching up on the defensive end, who's set to count $16 million against the cap in 2014 after compiling a career-low six sacks in 2013.
"That's a pretty complex assessment, and I don't think we'll ever know," Jones said. "We should benefit from the fact that he's a veteran player and really would know the nuances of conditioning and strengthening and preparing, and then we have in Rod Marinelli, arguably the best, I think, one of the best defensive coaches with a specialization in down linemen that there is. There's a lot of reasons why DeMarcus could have a lot better year."
Ware said after the season ended that he'd be open to a pay cut, then clarified and meant that he'd be open to restructuring the deal. It doesn't sound at this point like releasing Ware to provide cap relief is the likeliest option, and executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team is still in the midst of evaluating what their plan is with Ware. He didn't want to comment further. [embedded_ad]
It remains clear, though, that the front office and head coach still believe Ware can be the same force who gave Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith fits during camp last season – as long as they can figure out a way to keep the pass rusher as healthy as possible.
"The guy has dealt with a lot of different things over the last couple years – a shoulder, and elbow, a quad, different injuries here and there – and that happens," said Jason Garrett. "It's the nature of football. He's always done an amazing job fighting through those things, doing what he can do to get himself to Sunday. I think if we get him to a point where he is healthy throughout the season, you'll see similar production to what he's had throughout his career."