Cowboys to pay attention to Terrell Suggs' deal

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
11:15
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – The NFL offices are closed today for the holiday, but you can bet the Dallas Cowboys will have a keen eye on what is going on today with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs have agreed on a contract extension that will significantly lower the outside linebacker’s $12.8 million salary-cap figure. He was set to make a $7.8 million base salary in the final year of his deal.

Why would the Cowboys care?

DeMarcus Ware.

True, Suggs is an outside linebacker and Ware is a defensive end, but they by and large play the same position.

Ware is set to make a $12.25 million base salary and count $16.003 million against the cap. He is technically signed through 2017, but the final two years of the contract will void so he will be a free agent after the 2015 season.

Suggs turns 32 in October. He missed eight games in 2012 because of an Achilles injury. He had one sack in the last eight games of the 2013 season but still had 10 on the year.

Ware turns 32 in July. He has missed significant amounts of practice the last two seasons because of myriad injuries and missed the first three games of his career in 2013 with a quadriceps strain. He had a career-low six sacks last season after putting up four in the first three games.

The extension the Ravens give Suggs could serve as something of a blueprint for the Cowboys. Needing salary-cap space, the Cowboys cannot have Ware count $16 million against the cap. They can restructure his deal again, but all that does is push money into future caps. They can cut him, which leaves them without a pass rusher of note. They can offer him a cut in pay with the chance to earn money back in incentives.

NFL Nation Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley offered up his take on the Suggs’ deal and what it meant for both sides.

“In the end, Suggs realized he wasn't going to make more money elsewhere and the Ravens understood they weren't going to get a pass-rusher like Suggs at a lower price. It was a smart move for the Ravens and Suggs. The Ravens know they're not getting the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but Suggs is still a quality defender who can rush the passer and set the edge against the run (although he had lapses in this area last season). He made 80 tackles and 10 sacks in what was a below-average season for him.

“There is some risk involved in extending Suggs. His game has been in decline the past two seasons. He missed half of the 2012 season after tearing his Achilles tendon and he picked up weight in the second half of the 2013 season, which led to one sack in his final eight games and a reduced number of snaps. But, considering what the Ravens have to address in the draft and free agency, they didn't have the luxury to spend money in free agency or use a draft pick on a pass-rusher this offseason.”

The decisions are the same for the Cowboys and Ware, although I would contend the Cowboys could still take a pass rusher in the draft even if Ware is back.

The Cowboys understand they cannot get into the top-end of the free agent market. The pass rushers in the draft do not look to be as bountiful or as talented as some other years. Ware has to figure out what he would get on the open market after a down season and see if it would be worth it to him to take a look.

That’s why the Suggs’ deal matters to the Cowboys.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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