Faced with perhaps the toughest personnel decision they have ever had to make, someone at Valley Ranch found the guts to do it.
The Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware on Tuesday.
Ever think you’d read that sentence?
If you said no, you can’t be blamed. The Cowboys under Jerry Jones have not liked saying good-bye to their best players, even when it was time – when those players had stopped being their best players.
Jones’ wild-catting gambler mindset, combined with the franchise’s own stature as one of the NFL’s most followed and successful teams, led him to go for broke year after year with the team. It would never do to let go of a critical piece in the never-ending bid for another Super Bowl. The Cowboys simply put it on the credit card.
But the wave of debt apparently caught up to the Cowboy this year.
With Ware, at least, they decided they had to get out of at least one upside-down loan they had made to themselves.
They decided not to pay $12 million to a player coming off so many injuries at Ware’s age. The numbers spoke plainly. But Jones or someone at Valley Ranch still had to listen, still had to trust the black-and-white of the numbers, still had to say no to the little voice that was telling them, “Maybe it’s different with this guy, maybe he has two or three more years that can help us get to the Super Bowl.”
Somebody acted in the best interest of the bottom line. Maybe Jerry Jones. Maybe Stephen Jones. Maybe someone else.
Whoever did deserves credit for making a tough decision. Right or wrong? Remains to be seen. But this is evident: the Cowboys acted in a manner like some of the good franchises in the NFL today – the Patriots, the Steelers, the Ravens, all Super Bowl winners who have let go of their best players when the cap or performance or injuries said it was time.
The Cowboys are a lesser team without Ware. They have a serious hole to fill on the defensive line, although they’re leaving the door open for Ware.
But perhaps they are a better franchise now, better equipped to operate the way the modern NFL operates – with cheap, productive labor that turns over every three or four years, that affords a chance to keep, or even add, one or two big-money contracts at a critical position when the Super Bowl window is open.
Maybe next time, when the next window is open, the Cowboys can afford to keep the next DeMarcus Ware for a little longer.
-- Carlos Mendez