Anyone that follows professional sports at one time or another heard someone say, "It's a business," within regards to how these teams are operated. The front office understands that, as do the players and agents. As much as you care about that player and what he or she has done for you, there will come a time where you have to make a difficult decision about that player's future.
When I worked in this Cowboys front office for Jerry and Stephen Jones in the early 2000's, there were some hard decisions that had to be made about players that played tremendous roles in the history of this franchise. Nobody wanted to see Emmitt Smith or Larry Allen leave but it was time for the club to go in a different direction. These decisions were not easy for the Jones' to have to make but that is the business.
This front office faces some difficult decisions ahead when it pertains to their salary cap. There is no doubt in my mind that Stephen Jones and his staff will once again figure out the best way to get this team at or under the projected cap. One of those options would be instead of extending or pushing money into the future, would to be implement the plan that they used in 2013 by reducing Doug Free's cap number from $10.02 to $3.5 million for this past season and the 2014 one. By working this deal, the club cleared $3.5 million in cap space but guaranteed Free's $3.5 million for the season. The deal got the club what they wanted in the relief but it also allowed Free to make more than $2 million that he would have made as a free agent on the street.
With this thought in mind, I would like to consider the same options with DeMarcus Ware who is due $12.75 million in 2014. This is where the hard decision for Jerry and Stephen Jones come into play because of the years of elite play that Ware has given you over the years. There once was a time where Ware was this type of player and commanded this type of compensation but those days are over. For two seasons now, the injuries are starting to pile up and these are just not simple ones but the type that keep him from doing his job effectively. His job requires him to take on blocks every play but how does he do that with a bad elbow and stingers in his neck? He can't and that is the bottom line. [embedded_ad]
If the Jones were to go to Ware and ask him to take his salary from $12.75 to $5.5 million, he is still in line with what players such as Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are making in Seattle and what they got on the open market last year. By putting the ball in Ware's court, he also has to understand that he would not be the only defensive end on the market if he decides against the deal and forces the club to release him. There is a good chance that we also see Julius Peppers who is due $18 million this season and $20 million the next. Both Michael Bennett and John Abraham could also be on the market because they both only signed a one year deals. The decision that Ware would have to make is that with his injury history and age, would a team gamble on him and his health for a big ticket? I don't believe so.
With how things worked out for the front office and Doug Free, it really was a win for both sides and that is the model that they should use with DeMarcus Ware. He is no longer a high ticket player and in this day and age, how well you play, results in how much you make. Performance, age and health are all factors in these decision but going forward, they are ones that need to be made regardless how much you care for the player and what he has done for you in the past.