Updates from Wednesday, Mar. 12
Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that DeMarcus Ware has signed a three-year, $30 million dollar contract with the Denver Broncos:
Filed to ESPN: Pending a physical, former Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware reached agreement with Broncos on 3-year, $30M contract include $20M gtd.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014
DeMarcus Ware immediately became one of the most coveted free agents on the market after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys. A mad dash has begun among playoff contenders to land his signature in a process that's seemingly moving very quickly.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported shortly after the signing period officially opened that six playoff teams had already contacted Ware:
How much interest has DeMarcus Ware received? Six playoff teams have called. He’d like to move quickly if possible.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 11, 2014
It certainly doesn't come as much surprise that the veteran pass-rusher and playoff teams are showing mutual interest.
Attacking the quarterback is essential to success in today's NFL, as the Seattle Seahawks showed by completing shutting down Peyton Manning and his myriad of weapons in the Super Bowl. Ware had 117 sacks in nine seasons with the Cowboys.
Where will Ware end up?
The 31-year-old defensive end or outside linebacker was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team first team four times during his time with Dallas. He hasn't been able to capture an elusive Super Bowl title, though.
Despite the high level of interest from around the league, the Cowboys are still hopeful of bringing him back into the fold.
David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reports Ware remains open to the possibility of returning to Dallas after he explores the market. Jerry Jones said he made an agreement with the edge rusher to ensure the Cowboys remained in that mix under different contract terms:
DeMarcus and I agreed on an understanding that would allow him to explore the options he will have for the 2014 season and beyond. We were also in very strong agreement that playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both be exploring.
Exactly what type of deal Ware will be able to get on the open market is a question mark. Although his pass-rushing numbers has been virtually unmatched over the past decade, he's now 31 and is coming off the least productive season of his career in terms of sacks with just six.
Rowan Kavner of DallasCowboys.com provided more insight into Ware's 2013-14 campaign:
Ware had a couple of hefty streaks snapped last season. He’d compiled seven straight double-digit sack seasons before falling down to six sacks in 2013, and he’d played in all 16 games in each of his first eight seasons before missing three games last year.
Injuries have been the story for Ware in recent seasons. He’s dealt with a plethora of different ones, including quad, hamstring, elbow, shoulder, neck and back problems the last two years alone. He’s undergone elbow and shoulder surgeries the last two offseasons and missed the first three games of his career with a quad strain.
Even with Ware’s career-low six sacks, he still finished third on the team in the category in 2013.
It doesn't sound like that's going to scare away the Denver Broncos, though. The team is setting its sights on another Super Bowl title and upgrading the defense has clearly been the top priority during the early part of free agency.
The team announced the signings of safety T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib on the opening day of signings.
Team executive John Elway noted Ward would bring much-needed toughness to the secondary:
Excited to announce we've agreed to terms with strong safety T.J. Ward. He'll bring energy and toughness to our secondary.— John Elway (@johnelway) March 11, 2014
Denver then passed along word of a six-year pact with Talib:
The #Broncos have agreed to terms with UFA CB Aqib Talib on a six-year contract.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) March 12, 2014
It sounds like Ware could be next.
Adam Schefter of ESPN sent along a pair of updates. First, he confirmed Ware would be visiting the Broncos in Denver:
Former Cowboys DE DeMarcuus Ware will be flying to Denver today to visit the Broncos, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014
He then said another AFC Went team contacted Ware's representative about a potential meeting and received an ominous message in return:
One AFC West official who tried to get DeMarcus Ware to visit his city said he was told "you're not going to like where he winds up."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014
The Broncos make a lot of sense for Ware. The team was stout against the run last season, but struggled to contain the pass, especially when Von Miller was hurt. Adding another top-tier rusher would help the secondary and give the defense a little more firepower.
Miller underwent surgery for an ACL injury in January, which leaves his status for the early portion of the 2014 season up in the air. Once he's healthy, pairing up with Ware would give the Broncos one of the best—if not the best—pass-rushing duos in the league.
It sounds like other teams remain in the conversation, though. So if the Broncos let Ware leave Denver without a deal, the situation opens right back up.