By Tom Orsborn
SAN ANTONIO — DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas Cowboys could be headed for a split after the club informed him Tuesday it “definitely” wants to keep him but not at his burdensome current salary and cumbersome cap number.
Citing a league source, NFL.com reported the Cowboys told the defensive end in so many words that his base salary of $12.25 million and his cap figure of $16 million are unacceptable given his reduced production and inability to shake nagging injuries.
Ware is the franchise’s career leader in sacks, but he recorded a career-low six last season while battling injuries that forced him to miss the first three games of his career. Ware will be 32 next season, and some in the organization reportedly believe he’s no longer capable of producing the dominant play that made him one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers from 2006-12. During that stretch, Ware averaged 15 sacks per season while earning seven Pro Bowl trips. Ware made it clear after the season he had no interest in taking a pay cut, but owner Jerry Jones suggested last month maintaining such a hard-line stance could lead to a divorce.
“You have a defensive player that’s your highest-paid defensive player, and he hasn’t been on the field much the last two years, that has to be considered,” Jones said at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The twist in the Ware saga came on the day the Cowboys announced they restructured the contracts of quarterback Tony Romo, linebacker Sean Lee and cornerback Orlando Scandrick to clear cap space. Utilizing a restructure clause in the six-year, $108 million contract extension Romo signed in March 2013, the Cowboys created $10 million in salary cap space.
According to the team’s website, Romo’s scheduled $21.773 million salary-cap figure has been reduced to $11.773 million after the club turned $12.5 million of his $13.5 million base salary into a signing bonus. That move, along with others, placed the club within roughly $1 million of the 2014 NFL salary cap.