DeMarcus Ware

It has been over a week since the NFL’s free agency period began and most of the damage has already been done. Did your team fall into our list of winners or losers?


Denver Broncos:

Clearly the 43-8 obliteration at the hands of Seattle in the Super Bowl didn’t sit well with the Broncos, as they added hybrid defensive end DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Aqib Talib and safety 
T.J. Ward on the defensive side of the ball.

The Broncos lost wide receiver Eric Decker but were able to replace him with former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders.

New England Patriots

The Patriots always seem to add the right players to fit their scheme and this free agency period was no different.

New England lost cornerback Aqib Talib to Denver but made a big splash by adding cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Patriots also added cornerback Brandon Browner from Seattle, but Browner will miss four games due to a suspension.

The Patriots were also able to resign wide receiver Julian Edelman. Edelman was a big part of New England’s success in 2013 with six touchdowns and 1,056 receiving yards.

Chicago Bears

The Bears defense was atrocious last season - they lacked a pass rush, giving opposing quarterbacks plenty of time to light them up through the air.

Chicago did lose defensive end Julius Peppers but it replaced him with Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, two solid pickups.

The Bears also added former Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, defensive back Danny McCray and wide receiver Domenik Hixon.


Carolina Panthers

The Panthers had a rough free agency as they lost wide receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Hixon.

On the defensive side of the ball, Carolina also lost cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell.

Kansas City Chiefs

After a successful regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs lost a lot of momentum during the offseason. Free agency was not kind to Andy Reid and Co.

Kansas City lost offensive tackle Brandon Albert, offensive guard Geoff Schwartz, wide receiver Dexter McCluster, and defensive end Tyson Jackson.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys lost their all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware to the Denver Broncos. Losing Ware 
is a huge blow to the Cowboys chemistry as Ware was an important member of the defense. The Cowboys also lost defensive back Danny McCray to the Chicago Bears.

They did add backup quarterback Brandon Weeden and defensive tackle Henry Melton but losing Ware puts the Cowboys among the free agency losers. 

Next season the Dallas Cowboys all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware will no longer have a star on the side of his helmet. Instead, Ware will wear a Bronco logo as the outside linebacker - defensive end hybrid will join Denver after Dallas failed to restructure his contract.

During his nine year tenure with the Cowboys Ware played in 141 games. In those 141 games, he recorded 444 tackles, 117 sacks and 32 forced fumbles.

While Ware’s presence will be missed, it was time for both parties to split.

Although owner Jerry Jones placed the Cowboys in a salary cap nightmare, Ware could have remained on the team if he was willing to take a pay cut. But that simply wasn’t the case.

But who can blame Ware- the Cowboys organization has finished the last three seasons at 8-8 and Jerry Jones hasn’t made the best moves to help his team. Leaving for Denver gives Ware the best opportunity to win a super bowl.

Even though Ware decided to leave, he said that it was an honor to play for the Cowboys

"I was honored to wear the Star alongside my former teammates and will always hold a special place in my heart for the Cowboys Nation and the Dallas community,” Ware tweeted.

As for Dallas, giving into Ware’s demand was risky- restructuring Ware’s contract could have run the Cowboys over the salary cap and Ware is coming off multiple surgeries.

During the 2013 offseason, Ware had surgeries on his shoulder and right elbow. In 2014, Ware once again had surgery on his right elbow.

Due to his multiple injuries, Ware has seen his production dwindle. Ware’s sack total dropped from 19.5 sacks in 2011 to 11.5 in 2012.

In 2013, Dallas’ new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin changed from a 3-4 scheme to the 4-3, moving Ware to defensive end. This move combined with injuries to his back and elbow resulted in 2013 being one of Ware’s worst seasons, with only six sacks and 28 total tackles.

After Ware’s rough 2013 campaign, the Cowboys had every right to let go of him. Ware isn’t the same player he was in his prime.

Ware might make a comeback with the Broncos but it doesn't seem likely. He is in the twilight of his career and even if he doesn't want to admit it, joining the Broncos is his best opportunity to go out on top.

One day Ware will see his name in the Cowboys’ ring of honor, but for now he’ll chase a championship with the Denver Broncos.  

IRVING — The Super Bowl isn’t coming to Cowboys Stadium, and nobody is talking about the main tenant playing in February.

It’s hard to tell what to expect from the Dallas Cowboys this season.

Surely they can’t be as bad as their 1-7 start last season. And they probably won’t be as good as the division champs who went 11-5 the year before.

Here’s the really confusing part: The roster hasn’t changed much. Some veterans have left, but there haven’t been any of the splashy arrivals you’d expect from team owner Jerry Jones. The most notable changes are the guys in charge, coach Jason Garrett and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Garrett became interim coach in the middle of last season and immediately shook up things. Practices went faster and were more physical. Digital clocks were installed throughout team headquarters to eliminate excuses for being late. The team went 5-3 the rest of the way, despite backup Jon Kitna and third-stringer Stephen McGee taking all the snaps.

Jones liked what he saw enough to keep Garrett, and the Princeton grad was smart enough to make sure everything would be done his way.

His culture change has continued in ways big and small, from grumpy veterans who’ve been dumped to the “Carpe Diem” sign players now see on their way to and from the practice field. That certainly wasn’t left by coach Wade Phillips.

“We always talked about the importance of being great each and every day,” Garrett said. “We talk about the importance of letting last year’s team go, and that it’s a new team. You can have the exact same collection of coaches and players and the team from year to year changes and you have to redevelop that chemistry and all that goes with putting a team together. If we had won the Super Bowl last year we’d be preaching the same thing.

“We were 6-10, and I’d be lying to you if I said that doesn’t kind of sit in everybody’s craw as extra motivation. We’re focused on today, we’re putting last year behind us, and hopefully we’ll stack some good days together and give ourselves a chance to be a good football team.”

Pretty vanilla stuff, right? That’s where Ryan comes in.

The son of bombastic Buddy (architect of the 46 defense run by the 1985 Chicago Bears and the guy who once took a swing at a fellow coordinator during a game) and twin of audacious Rex (the coach who’s guided the Jets to the AFC title game in each of his first two seasons and also made headlines for his outsized personality), Rob could be described as the anti-Garrett.

Just look at his protruding belly and long silvery hair. Or listen to what he said about the Eagles after they became the popular pick to win it all this season: “I don’t know if we win the all-hype team. That might have gone to someone else, but we’re going to kick their (rear) when we play them.”

Pass-rush specialist DeMarcus Ware wasn’t sure if Ryan was a coach “or a Harley-Davidson motorcycle rider.” But like the rest of the defensive players, he’s quickly fallen in love with Ryan’s style and his playbook, which is full of unpredictable ways of getting to the quarterback. That’s a huge selling point to the players because predictability is often cited as the reason Dallas went from giving up the second-fewest points in the NFL in 2009 to allowing the most points in franchise history in 2010.

“I’ve had a lot of coaches that are fun and personable, real characters, but they weren’t very good football coaches,” veteran inside linebacker Keith Brooking said. “He’s a heck of a football coach, too. That makes it even more exciting to play for him.”

Ryan won two Super Bowls as linebackers coach in New England, and he’s been defensive coordinator in Oakland and Cleveland. Ware is a great talent to build around, having led the NFL in sacks two of the last three seasons, and Jay Ratliff gives him another dynamic player up front. The problem is in the secondary, which was woeful last season, especially at safety. Abram Elam followed Ryan from the Browns to the Cowboys, and his knowledge of the system should help.

Most predictions have the Cowboys finishing around 8-8. As far as transition years go, that might not be so bad.

“There are times when you have your highs and you have your lows; I think we’ve had that,” Ware said. “So, right now, we’re right in the middle, and we’re climbing.” 

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Cowboys hope to rebound from disappointing 6-10 campaign.