IRVING, Texas — As the new league year approaches on March 11th, the Dallas Cowboys will enter free agency with a little over $2 million to spend thanks to some quick roster moves this past week. Consequently, the showdown with DeMarcus Ware has been staved off for now.
If you read Twitter, fan forums, and the Cowboys underground media, there’s a theory that DeMarcus Ware is done. The theory is not without merit. After all, the nine-year defensive end is coming off of his second consecutive season that ended with surgery. He will be 32 years old coming Opening Day. There is more sand at the bottom of his hourglass than at the top.
So why should the Cowboys be cautious in counting out this two-time NFL sack leader?
Ware is currently 18th on the NFL’s career sacks list. All of the top 20 sacks leaders recorded a ten-plus sack season in their thirties. Naturally, all 20 of those players had seasons in their thirties wherein they weren’t able to record ten or more sacks, just like what happened to Ware in 2013.
However, of those twenty players, fifteen of them were able to bounce back after a less-than-ten sack season and record ten or more sacks either the next season or later in their thirties.
One notable example is Chris Doleman. In 1994, during the brave new world of free agency, the Vikings veteran went to Atlanta and only started seven games out of fourteen and recorded seven sacks at age 33. The next season, despite making the Pro Bowl, Doleman failed to break the decade mark. Then, after going to San Francisco at age 35, Doleman broke out with three consecutive ten-plus sack seasons.
A contemporary example is John Abraham. After a lousy 2009 season that saw him play a full season’s complement of games, Abraham recorded only 5.5 sacks at age 31, just like Ware. But then the eleven-year veteran responded with a ten-plus sack season that earned him All Pro honors. Even to this day, on his third team, Abraham is still going strong with double digit sack seasons.
Cutting Ware and asking Ware to take a pay cut save the Cowboys virtually the same amount of money of roughly $8 million. Though no one wants to see this Cowboys stalwart wear another uniform for sentimentality, if he should be cut, the rationale should be to save money, not because he’s washed up. History says this sultan of sack has something left in the tank.