Much has been made of the Cowboys’ decision to let defensive end DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher go this off season. But it fits into the team’s new overall philosophical change born out of their financial mistakes of the past, vice-president Stephen Jones said.
One of those changes is to no longer invest in players over the age of 30, save for a few exceptions.
Ware was released because the Cowboys didn’t want to pay him $12.5 million in 2014. He will be 32 next year and is coming off a career-low six sacks because of injuries.
Ware signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Broncos. Hatcher made no attempt to re-sign Hatcher as a free agent. He got a four-year, $27.5 million deal from the Washington Redskins. He will be 32 next year as well.
“If we don't learn from what has bitten us then shame on us,” Jones said at the NFL Owner's Meeting in Orlando. “Unfortunately we have been paying guys who over 30 years old a lot of money up front and it hasn't worked for us. I'm not saying that Hatcher won’t work out. I’m not saying that Ware won’t work out. It hasn't worked out for us. So we have to do something different. I hope it all works out for them. But if you look around and look at the numbers…unfortunately it’s a young mans game and there is a lot more risk when you’re signing guys past the 30 mark.”
The biggest problem the Cowboys have had was injuries that rocked the defense the past two years. Jones said the team has taken a harder look at injuries and injury history and will evaluate that in terms of contract decisions going forward.
“There are no excuses,” Jones said. “But you have to evaluate why that has happened to you. You have to take a look at why we have had injuries the past two years in significant numbers especially on the defensive side and say ‘where is it happening, why is it happening and what can we do differently’.’”
“I’m not saying we will never do (pay guys over 30 again),” Jones continued. “There are always exceptions. But when you are coming off of what we have come off of, obviously we have been bit. We will continue to assess. We will assess other teams. We will obviously asses how Jay Ratliff does in Chicago, how Hatcher does and how Ware does. We are happy for them. We ran into both of them. I’m thrilled they were able to make the money they made.”