DE now a 'must' for Cowboys, not a need

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
4:30
PM ET

IRVING, Texas -- Now that the Dallas Cowboys have decided to part ways with DeMarcus Ware, their all-time leader in sacks, they must figure out a way to replace his production and more than just the six sacks he recorded in 2013.

The Cowboys will gain $7.4 million in salary cap space by releasing Ware, which will give them enough room to add whoever they want to add on a defense that is in need of even more help without Ware.

As a point of reference, the Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal in 2012 and his first-year cap number was $3.2 million.

The best way to replace Ware is with a number of players. The key to the Cowboys' 4-3 scheme is sustained pressure with their front four. Bringing those players in waves is what works best. With Ware scheduled to make $12.75 million in base salary and offseason workouts in 2014, the Cowboys have to re-configure that money to multiple players.

The chances of re-signing Jason Hatcher have improved, but he will receive interest from other teams and will want to check out what others have to say.

If the Cowboys can get a veteran pass-rusher at the price that teams paid Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora a year ago (two years, a little more than $4 million annually), then that is a route they will go.

If they want to spend a little more, then keep an eye on Willie Young of the Detroit Lions. He is something of a forgotten man on the Lions' defensive line, but he has had his moments against the Cowboys.

This point, however, has to be perfectly clear: the defensive line has gone from a need to a must for the Cowboys.

It is quite possible George Selvie will be their top returning defensive lineman in 2013, and he did not join the roster until training camp started.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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