Cowboys release franchise sacks leader Ware

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm •  Published: March 11, 2014
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IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are moving on without franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware.

Now they have to figure out how to rebuild their defensive line.

The Cowboys released Ware on Tuesday, a salary cap move that owner Jerry Jones called "extremely difficult" after the worst season of the star pass rusher's career. Ware broke Harvey Martin's 30-year-old franchise record for sacks in 2013, but got to the quarterback a career-low six times and missed games for the first time in his nine-year career with a thigh injury.

The 31-year-old Ware also had offseason elbow surgery and was set to count $16 million against the salary cup. Negotiations on a reduced salary failed, so his release saves about $7.4 million and gives Dallas about $9 million to spend at the moment.

"A decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone player in the history of your franchise, is extremely difficult," Jones, also the team's general manager, said in a statement announcing the decision just as free agency opened. "We were also in very strong agreement that playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both be exploring."

Still, Ware has likely played his last down for an owner who always had a tough time letting aging superstars go.

Without Ware and with 2013 team sacks leader Jason Hatcher already headed for free agency, all the projected starters from a year ago are gone from a defense that gave up the most yards in franchise history and finished last in the league in total defense. Rod Marinelli is taking over for the demoted Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator after both joined the staff last year. Marinelli was in charge of the injury-riddled front last season.

Anthony Spencer, who like Ware had to make the transition to defensive end in a four-man defensive front, missed almost all of last season with a knee injury and is a free agent. Dallas released defensive tackle Jay Ratliff in the middle of last season.

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