DALLAS, Texas (105.3 THE FAN) - Jerry Jones historically has a difficult time making an emotional and financial break from his Dallas Cowboys stars. But sources tell me that DeMarcus Ware's future in Dallas can be boiled down to a hard-but-true catchphrase:
"Pay cut or be cut.''
"I look at that,'' said Jones, who certainly won't phrase his position that harshly but conceded he is weighing every option, even with a future Hall-of-Fame pass-rusher. "Those are things you have to look at."
They are being examined - but not to the point that a Wednesday midday transaction transpired. A Philadelphia radio station misunderstood a blog report ... Which misunderstood a newspaper column ... And many jumped the gun Wednesday in reporting that Ware had been cut.
The transaction gun will be fired this offseason, however - in one of four directions.
Cowboys management is reluctant to part ways with a "face-of-the-franchise'' player like Ware, who as recently as last summer's training camp seemed primed for high performance. But the creeping injury issues combined with the salary-cap concerns has the front office considering asking Ware to take a serious pay cut or possibly giving him his outright release.
The options are clear (and Jones knows it):
1 Leave Ware's existing deal as it is, featuring cap hits of $16 million (in 2014), $17 million (in 2015), $14 million (in 2016) and $14 million (in 2017). The only person who really considers this an option at all is Ware himself.
2 Make Ware a post-June 1 cut. If the Cowboys release Ware after June 1, the cap hit amounts to $8 million spread over the ensuing two years. The downside is Dallas robs itself of free-agent shopping room during March because they are hamstrung until post-June 1.
3 If Ware does not budge, the Cowboys can cut him before June 1, thus moving the cap charge from $16 million to $8.5 million – a savings of $7.5 million.
4 Work with Ware to re-negotiate a new deal that cuts his salary ... possibly in half, but ideally in some way that includes incentives should Ware return to form.
How reluctant is Jones to pull one of these triggers?
"I wouldn't discuss timing because I don't have a time,'' he said. "Could do it this afternoon. Could do it tomorrow afternoon. Or could do it a week from today, or two weeks from today. But, no, we haven't thought about it. I'm not planning on visiting with him today.''
Well, not today. But soon. And yes, they have thought about it – Jones just doesn't like to think about it.
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