DALLAS - SEPTEMBER 30: Linebacker DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys sacks quarterback Marc Bulger #10 of the St. Louis Rams at Texas Stadium September 30, 2007 in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys won 35-7. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
A barely palpable but certainly present wave of doubters popped up along message boards last night to vent their worries (or in some cases, probably, hopes) that Jerry Jones may have made a mistake in giving DeMarcus Ware a $78 million extension to keep him in Dallas through 2015.
This is an obligatory occurrence after any such deal, and many will inevitably--and probably already have--compared this to the $100 million payday given to Albert Haynesworth by the Redskins. But this reasoning is, at best, specious.
First, Ware is in his prime. Having turned 27 just before training camp, the linebacker is (very) arguably the best pure pass rusher in the game today. Smart and able, as he has proved thoroughly throughout the past three seasons, to thrive in Dallas's 3-4.
The two-time first-team All-Pro and perennial Pro Bowler has never missed a game with injury, proving durable, and--after playing the last four games with a broken foot, wherein he's recorded four sacks--tough as nails.
Most of all, this deal is more than reasonable for Dallas. With a $13 million average over six years, Ware will be making the market price for a premium pass rusher. But to Dallas, and any hopes the team has for the future, he is much more than just a premium pass rusher. Ware has grown into a legitimate threat against the run, more than serviceable in coverage and the active heart of the Dallas defense.
That's why I say that any comparison between Ware's contract and Haynesworth's is categorically flawed. Even if one doesn't believe that the Redskins are operating under a curse when it comes to landing veterans in free agency--and this is supported by overwhelming evidence--the deal was an expensive reach; that given to Ware was reasonable, and the closest to a sure-thing-signing possible in the context of NFL deal-making.
Haynesworth, like Ware, is a deft pass rusher--one of the best. But coming into Washington, he was coming into a new scheme, under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Greg Blache--a man who, above all, believes in the sanctity of the scheme--sticking to assignments, an area in which Haynesworth never excelled.
But more important is the durability question. Aside from his rookie season, Haynesworth never played a full season in Nashville, as he was maligned by injury. He hasn't yet missed any time with Washington, though he has struggled with glute and ankle injuries through six games this year.
There was plenty of evidence last spring to support Haynesworth's deal being an oversight, one of many, on the part of Dan Snyder and co.; this is not the case for Ware, and like him or not, Jerry got this one right.