The Dallas Cowboys have always had a complicated and sometimes volatile relationship when it comes to their salary cap situation. Once the new millennium started, the Cowboys released more big names than they acquired changing their identity moving forward.
What was once a prime free-agent destination landing spot has become a flea market where the best deal rules. It is smart to construct the bottom half of your roster this way but at some point, you have to open up your wallet and pay players that you didn’t draft.
The salary dump for the league has commenced but one thing that I found interesting while doing some research is how similar a current case could be. The Denver Broncos look like they are set to release star pass rusher Von Miller who was lost for the 2020 NFL season due to injury.
The pass rusher will apparently not come back to Denver at his current salary but a deep dive into his situation reminds me of a similar situation that transpired in Dallas seven years ago.
Like Miller, Demarcus Ware had question marks about how effective he could be. The Dallas Cowboys drafted Ware to be their pass-rushing outside linebacker but after a scheme change, Ware was asked to play defensive end in their new 4-3 base look.
He was released when the Dallas Cowboys front office deemed him unworthy at his current salary cap number.
Ware was a soon to be 32 years old when released before the start of the new league year in 2014 and Miller is also a soon-to-be 32-year-old player with production concerns. The similarities don’t stop there.
Both players were multiple-time Pro Bowl players as Ware had seven Pro Bowl before his release while Miller is an eight-time honoree. Ware didn’t make the Pro Bowl his rookie season and his last season in Dallas. Miller missed the Pro Bowl in his third season and this past season which could also be his last in Denver.
Both players had over 100 sacks with their respective teams before their release as Ware had 117 sacks in Dallas while Miller had 106 to his credit. Both players had single-digit sacks in their last season with their teams.
There was much speculation about Ware’s landing spot but he quickly signed with Denver a day after being released by the Dallas Cowboys on a three-year, $30 million contract. There is a lot of speculation of Miller’s landing spot if he is released but the Texas native has multiple family members who root for the hometown team.
Ware was released prior to the start of free agency and the Broncos now have until before the new league year to decline his option and allow him to hit free agency a few days earlier like the Cowboys did with Ware or keep him on the roster allowing him to continue his Denver career.
Now that you see the similarities between these two great players, it is not unrealistic to think that Miller could succeed in Dallas. Ware was released partly because the team didn’t think he could produce at his current salary yet he recorded a ten-sack season in his first year with the team.
His second year in Denver, Ware hit paydirt as the pass-rushing tandem of Miller and Ware terrorized quarterbacks all the way to a Super Bowl victory. Denver’s no-fly zone secondary allowed the defense to carry what was an anemic offense commanded by quarterback Peyton Manning, who clearly was suffering the effects of a debilitating injury, to victory.
Dallas clearly has an offense capable of winning the big game. And if they can get Dak Prescott under contract, that could be enough to entice Miller to come home. Pairing Miller opposite of another DeMarcus could have similar results.
Sure the Cowboys need plenty of defensive help but if they can convince Miller to come to Dallas before the free agency bonanza begins, it might sway a player to take less money who wasn’t at first interested in Dallas and play with two effective pass rushers.
Dallas was rumored to be interested in pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney last year if the price went down. Even when Clowney signed a one-year deal with a base salary of $13 million, the Cowboys were out but presumably closer to his asking price.
Miller coming to Dallas on the same three-year, $30 million deal Ware signed seven years ago has a perfect symmetry about it. Paying Miller $10 million a year feels better than paying Clowney at $13 million especially when you compare production.
Think about Miller coming to Dallas as payback from Denver. I hate seeing DeMarcus Ware cast as a legendary Denver Bronco player. Hopefully, the Dallas Cowboys will have the same super results if reversed. Here’s to having Jamais Vu.