With the new hire of Mark Collins as the outside linebackers coach many have speculated Atlanta to shift towards a multiple defensive scheme to improve their defensive woes. However, the major problem with this speculation is the lack of personnel, namely linebackers who can effectively play the run and rush the passer. Enter Demarcus Ware.
The announcement of Ware’s release came immediately after the free agency deadline. Many analysts and fans questioned this move and chalked it up to Jerry Jones’ bizarre behavior, however, Ware was coming off an injury plagued 2013 season where he missed the first games of his career (three). Given his declining play, a $16 million cap hit and his age (31) the Cowboys had no logical decision to release him.
The franchise is in the midst of a miserable defensive transition and Ware was not a part of their future plans. He switched to defensive end in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 and it was clear the change did not suit his strengths he totaled only six sacks when he averaged nearly 12 sacks in his nine year career.
Despite the drop in production, Ware still has much to offer for an NFL franchise, he has been the model of consistency and is a positive influence in the locker room. Although he is not the player that he once was a move to the right team who uses him correctly will reap benefits.
Mike Nolan is aware that his defense needs major improvement; the unit totaled 32 sacks in 2013, good for 31st in the NFL. Even in 2012 the unit was unable to get much production from anyone besides John Abraham, who is no longer with the team and while Osi Umenyoria led the team in sacks in 2013 his play against the run was putrid and he was regulated to a third down rusher by the end of the season, a far cry from the every down defensive end Dimitroff and company envisioned when they signed him last year.
The addition of Demarcus Ware and a first round pass rusher (preferably Khalil Mack) can work wonders for Atlanta’s defensive. Ware has shown during his time with Dallas that he’s more than capable in coverage and against the run to go with his ability to rush the passer, he is perfect to play both defensive end and outside linebacker and could mentor a first round rookie to become an elite defensive player.
Signing Ware would come at a cost but it is nowhere near his last deal which had him earning $12 million and counting $16 million against the cap. If the Falcons can sign him to a 3 year deal where he earns an average of $7-8 million a year it could be a steal for the present and the future. He is favored to sign with more of a contender, but I believe he should be contacted nevertheless.