There is an important reason why I have been against the talk of forcing DeMarcus Ware to take a restructuring of his contract. It comes down to production. Sure he missed five games and was less than 100% in two others, but in those 11 regular season games he amassed 7.5 sacks and several key plays in big moments.
It's not just that, he also had 3.5 more sacks in the playoffs, including two on Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50. Ware shows up in the games biggest moments. In my view, he is worth every penny of his already low-key contract. $10 million a year for a Hall of Fame player? Sign me up.
Oh, but what about Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray, you ask? The both played quite a few snaps keeping both Ware and Von Miller fresh. Combined, they produced 9.5 sacks in the entire season (30 games between them), with zero sacks in the playoffs.
No, I'll stick with Ware one more season at his current salary and give those two guys another year to grow and learn. And keep Ware and Miller fresh for third down terror.
Here are Ware's three biggest plays of the 2015 regular season.
3. Dismantling the Green Bay Packers
The game was long decided, but the play itself was an exciting end to a dominating performance by the Denver Broncos. This game represented the first sign of how dominant this defense could be against an elite quarterback.
The play itself was not an incredible athletic move by Ware, just a terrible missed read by the Packers tight end who completely ignored his blocking assignment on Ware. Aaron Rodgers didn't have a chance, fumbling the ball that would eventually be a safety for the Broncos defense.
2. Sending the Broncos to the Playoffs
There was little reason to be excited about a deep playoff run from these Broncos down the stretch, dropping games to the lowly Oakland Raiders and the surging Pittsburgh Steelers, with improbable comeback wins over the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals at home.
However, it seemed whenever this team needed a critical play the would find one. Against the Bengals, in overtime, up 20-17, Ware made the play that would secure a playoff berth for the Broncos. A botched snap and Ware's ballhawking ways did the trick.
The following week, Peyton Manning would return and everything would fall into plays for the Broncos to secure homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
1. Turning the Tide in the Playoffs
Speaking of playoffs, that homefield almost didn't matter against the one team that seemed to have this Broncos defense figured out. With the game in serious doubt and the Broncos down 13-12 in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were driving for what could have been the dagger through the hearts of Denver.
Instead, Bradley Roby made an incredible play to punch the ball out and once again Ware would be in position to save the Broncos season once again with a fumble recovery.
From another angle, you can see Ware almost overshot the recovery attempt. Somehow, he regained control and the momentum would lead to 10 points for the Broncos and a trip to the AFC Championship game.
Those are my top three plays from Ware in 2015, but he made quite a few more. I just don't see how he isn't worth every penny of his already modest contract.
If John Elway can somehow manage to keep Malik Jackson into 2016 affording him the task of only replacing Danny Trevathan from the NFL's best defense, then we could be in for another great run of defensive dominance. Then all they would need is some offense...
What are your top three plays from DeMarcus Ware in 2015?