Keeping DeMarcus Ware Would Be Insane


Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick and Tony Romo all reportedly converted their 2014 base salaries into prorated bonuses.  These moves clear up cap space in the present but increase the cap number of each player for the future. Yet with the start of the 2014 league year just one week away (at which time all teams must be under the salary cap), Dallas wasn’t left with much of a choice.

Ego is often a major deterrent in a persons ability to make rational decisions. When a decision-maker seems to have made a poor investment, it’s only natural that they’ll want to give the situation time to recuperate. After all, admitting you’re wrong is not always easy.

In regards to the decision-making process of NFL front office executives, most aren’t afforded the liberty of seeing their poor decisions potentially materialize—A few bad moves gets a GM fired in today’s NFL.  But when the GM also happens to be the owner—as in the case of Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys—different rules apply.

Jones’ perpetual practice of restructuring contracts is largely due to his inability to admit his past decisions were wrong.  It’s also due to the superfluous faith he rewards his guys when he thinks he’s made a correct decision. But ultimately, the NFL’s hard salary cap has rendered the explanation for Jones’ poor decision-making irrelevant; his penchant for restructuring contracts is now just a part of a vicious cycle that has the Cowboys franchise in a serious bind.

It was just last offseason that Jones signed franchise QB Tony Romo to an extension. To stay under the 2013 cap he restructured the deals of Scandrick (a player he drafted in the 5th round), Cowboys-lifer Jason Witten, Doug Free (also a Jones draft pick), Miles Austin (an undrafted WR who Jones overpaid), and Jay Ratliff (another Cowboy-lifer, at the time). He restructured the deals of Brandon Carr, Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeu and Ryan Cook out of cap necessity.  And, oh yeah, he reworked DeMarcus Ware’s deal for the third time in three offseason’s.

Romo, whose extension was restructured less than a year after he signed it, now holds a 2015 cap hit of almost $28 million—a staggering amount. The Cowboys will undoubtedly have to restructure Romo’s deal again next offseason, and probably again the year after that.

Stating it might be time for Jerry Jones to change the way he conducts business is no revelation. This change must start now (or sometime this week) with DeMarcus Ware—the only Cowboy who’s worth cutting outright from a salary cap perspective.  Not only would shedding Ware’s $16 million 2014 cap hit save the Cowboys $7.4 million in immediate cap space, but Ware’s a declining talent who turns 32 in July.

The Cowboys could of course keep Ware.  The Lee, Scandrick and Romo restructures leave Dallas right around the $133 million salary cap.  Miles Austin’s inevitable designation as a June 1st cut will provide the Cowboys with cap space to sign their rookie class, so keeping Ware—even if he refuses to take a pay cut—is feasible.

But keeping Ware, a prototypical Jones move, would be a decision founded on emotion rather than logic.

It was the great Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For a Cowboys franchise that’s won just one playoff game in 18 years, even the thought of keeping Ware is insane.

Andrew Cohen
  • Trey Hamel

    You’re confusing Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Carr was a FA signing, Claiborne is the guy they traded up in the first round to get.

    • Andrew Cohen

      you are of course correct, thanks for the heads up

  • Ox

    Man, just tried to make sense of Romo’s cap page – in the “what on earth are they going to do the next few years, each year” sense. I came up empty

    • Jim Scott

      If Romo goes way south this season and needs to be released Dallas is surely in trouble as they will be… $3m under the cap for 2015.

      Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant will likely eat well into that number, but they will also likely have similar restructures worked into their deals as Romo had built into his.

      • Ox

        how on earth would Romo’s deal be restructured next year? Zero leverage to push a pay cut, so you’d have to do something with his salary for the year. But converting that would just destroy them in 16/17

        • Jim Scott

          No, it actually wouldn’t.

          Like I said, cutting Romo in the next offseason would put the cowboys $3m under the (projected) cap.

          I was saying that Bryant and Smith would have built in resturctures next year in similar fashion to the one Romo just took, which was actually announced/revealed when Romo’s deal was first made public last year.

          • Ox

            It might save them 3mil, but no QB and a ton of dead money. Not a viable “could”

          • Jim Scott

            I think you misread me. It costs them $2m, leaving them a little over $3m under the 2015 cap.

    • ICDogg

      I guess they’ll hope that the cap goes up much higher than currently predicted.

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  • Josh

    Andrew I am going to disagree with having to restructure Romo’s deal again. In fact in 2015 they may not have to restructure anyone’s deal. If the team’s salary is roughly 134 right now, even after restructuring Carr, and Witten that will only add 2.7 mil to next years cap. So if we are sitting at 137 and u add another 7 mil do too UDFA and drafted players if the cap is at 140 next year we will be 4 mil over. Then u save 17 mil by releasing Ware this season, another 4 mil is saved next year with Austin cut on June 1st of 2014, and Free’s contract voids in 2015 if he is still on the Roster which saves us 7 mil in cap space. We could quite easily be sitting at 116 in team payroll and have 24 mil in cap space before we make any other moves. If they restructure Ware’s deal than everything I just said goes up in flames.

    • Jim Scott

      The cowboys will have to restucture, but it will be because of newly signed, long term deals with Smith and Bryant which have built-in 2015 restructures, much like the ones mentioned above.

      In his rush to condemn the cowboys cap situation the author has not only misrepresented the Free and Scandrick deals as if they were merely pushing money out instead of reductions in salary obtained in return for small guarantees, but gone on to ignore the very obvious choice of doing the same thing with Ware, despite the fact that it was just done to Terrell Suggs (a player in a very similar situation to Ware: top at his position, back side of career, coming off injury). Reworking Ware’s deal in a reasonable fashion is the obvious solution and there are several reports that the cowboys intend to do exactly that. Using your cap calculator, it’s fairly easy to come up with a contract which exceeds what Suggs got (a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down), yet saves Dallas remarkable amounts of cash while putting Ware in an easy position to be a cowboy for life, while simultaneously making him much more than he would as a cut free agent.

      Everyone wins.

      • Andrew Cohen

        Don’t really think Ware and Suggs’ situations are so similar aside from the fact that they’re both “top at (their) position, back side of career, coming off injury.” Ravens could have cut Suggs without incurring any dead money (while saving $12.4mil in cap space)…Ware’s dead money hit is almost $16mil.
        As for Scandrick, he was just extended in November (after also being restructured last year). It may not have been a major restructure, but it was certainly a result of Dallas’ salcap issues.

        • Jim Scott

          Dallas does save nearly $8m in 2014 cap space, and, more importantly, about $17m in 2015 cap space by letting Ware go, so that is a very real possibility for them.

        • KD

          Ware’s dead money hit is not almost $16m it’s $8.5m. Cutting him would save the team almost $7.5m… but that error is beside the point; but if you want to say that difference negates the similarities, then so be it.
          Jim is absolutely correct, you’ve completely misrepresented the Doug Free reduction in salary, as well as the Scandrick deal.
          This is a “salary cap” only website. Be thorough or don’t write it.

          • Ox

            Calm down Jebediah

          • bill ty

            yes sorry was looking at the 2013 dead money hit for ware.

    • Andrew Cohen

      You’re not taking into account their other guys. Both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray are FAs after this year…i don’t see them letting bryant (who will command a ton of money) walk while Romo sits there with a $28mil cap hit. They may want to keep Murray too depending on how he fares in 2014.
      Ultimately, they need to stay competitive, which is very tough to do when one player has a cap hit as high as Romo’s.

      • Josh

        Well Jerry has already hinted about working out a extension with Dez. He has hinted that this is something that could happen this off-season. I’m not saying they won’t restructure Romo’s contract because obviously I am not the GM. My point is that if they make some actual smart decisions this off-season. They may not have to restructure anyone next year. And one major factor u have to consider is know one know’s what the salary cap is going to be next year. Everyone assumed it would be 125, then everyone assumed it would be 130 then it settled down to 133. It might jump up to 140 next year, or all the way up to 150. Plus if Dallas doesn’t use all of their cap it will carry over. So you can’t jump to conclusions on anything cap related. Has Jerry missed handled the cap, has he pushed it to its limits. Of course but he has been doing that for the last 18 years. Its and old story.

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