The Dallas Cowboys have their fair share of talent on their 53-man roster, but there's little question as to who is the best player on the team.
Some might throw out names like quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten or the promise of young stars like Sean Lee and Dez Bryant, but none are as complete and accomplished as linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
If this was a question of who is most valuable and not the best player, I'd have to pause and seriously consider Romo. For as many faults and missteps the much-discussed quarterback has had over his career, Dallas fans realize they have one of the 10 best QBs calling the shots for their team.
Romo rescued the Cowboys from mediocrity at the QB position, where the team started the likes of Quincy Carter, Drew Henson and Vinny Testaverde between the time Troy Aikman retired and Romo earned the starting job.
Since then, Romo has brought the Cowboys to the playoffs three times and helped the team earn its first playoff victory in over a decade back in 2009. Along with his three Pro Bowl selections, Romo has earned his way into the discussion of best player on this team.
As important a piece that Romo is to the Cowboys' hopes of once again hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, his mistakes over the years prove he's not as consistent as someone like Ware. The 2006 playoff game against Seattle and the interceptions against the Jets and Lions in 2011 all single-handily cost Dallas victories over the years.
The Cowboys QB is great when he's dialed in, but he's not the best the team has overall.
Part of the reason that Romo has had so much success under center is thanks to arguably his most reliable receiver over his career in Witten at tight end.
While the first few weeks of this season have Cowboys fans upset with No. 82, that's only because they've been so spoiled by his consistently great play for nine seasons now. The Tennessee alum moved past Ozzie Newsome last week for the No. 3 spot for most yardage all-time by a tight end and could easily be No. 1 by the time he hangs up his helmet.
Witten is great and could be the all-time great at his position in the near future, but he is only able to impact the game when he's able to get the football in his hand. While his blocking is important for the running game, Witten can only touch the ball a handful of times at best per contest in the passing game.
No. 82 is as good as they come at his position, but it's his position's limitations that make Witten fall just short of earning the crown for the Cowboys.
Romo and Witten are the two biggest challenges to Ware's crown, but some might also throw the likes of Bryant or Lee based on potential. Those two players are vital parts of this team's future, but they simply haven't been in the league long enough to surpass the likes of Ware in the present.
Neither player has reached the Pro Bowl just yet in their career, and it will be some time before they can challenge for the honor of being called the best Cowboy on the roster.
Ware is in a league all his own in terms of impact on the game and sheer talent. The Troy alum has been causing chaos for opposing offenses since former head coach Bill Parcells drafted him back in 2005. Perhaps the best part for the Cowboys, though, is that he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
Dallas' best player is a four-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowl selection and considered to be the third-best player in the NFL by CBS Sports' Pete Prisco. The CBS writer ranked Ware ahead of the likes of Darelle Revis, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen.
Prisco isn't the only one who recognizes just how dominant Ware is either. NFL.com ranked No. 94 the 12th-best player in all the league last year. ESPN's Trey Wingo and Cowboys social media strategist Shannon Gross also talked up the linebacker on Twitter recently, tweeting:
Cowboys have many issues.. DeMarcus Ware is not one of them.ABSOLUTE BEAST— trey wingo (@wingoz) September 23, 2012
Yesterday @demarcusware recorded his 25th multi-sack game and forced the 29th fumble of his career, both club records— Shannon Gross (@Shannon_PG) September 24, 2012
Ware has flirted with breaking Michael Strahan's single-season sack record on more than one occasion in his career, and there's a strong chance that accolade will be his some day soon. In fact, the only time Ware finished a season without double-digit sacks was in his rookie season back in 2005.
Over his six-year career, Ware has sacked an opposing quarterback 103.5 times. That means he averages 17.5 sacks per season. While Strahan's career spanned eight more seasons than Ware has totaled so far, the Giants legend only averaged just over 10 sacks a season.
Ware is the first player that the opposing quarterback and offensive line look for on every single down, and rightfully so. There's no linebacker in the league more imposing and disruptive than No. 94.
Even with the additions of guys like Morris Claiborne and the emergence of guys like Bruce Carter, the Cowboys defense would be a shadow of itself without Ware leading the way for this unit.
There are several names worthy of wearing the crown for the Dallas Cowboys, but none have a shot of doing so as long as Ware continues to don the star on his helmet.
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