One of the biggest free agents that Denver has this year is pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware.
Projecting what will happen with him has been tough due to the depth and youth Denver has at the position, mixed with Ware’s health over the last two years that has led him to miss 11 games over that span.
We got a little more clarity into Ware’s health and Denver’s interest in him when Ware sat down with ESPN’s Jeff Legwold.
Ware, who had offseason back surgery to repair a ruptured disk, said he feels “like a new man” after surgery and said he should be back to full health in the next two weeks. This clears up an injury that has been bothering Ware since before the 2016 season began.
Ware said Friday doctors had told him during the 2015 season he would need surgery to repair the disk, but he elected to try to work through another offseason and make it through 2016. Ware missed five games this past season with a fractured forearm he suffered during a Week 2 win over the Indianapolis Colts; he said his back was "fine" when he returned from that injury.
"And it just started to get worse and worse until I finally said, let's just clean everything up, get everything right. And now my body feel stable," Ware said. "It's about getting the muscles around it stronger so I can go back out there and play."
Hopefully he can remain healthy with this particular issue cleared up.
"I just felt like I needed to get myself back to health this time around," Ware said. "I tried to make it through the season, but it was the wear and tear and then you get to the point you can't do certain things because of the nerve. But I'm repaired, I feel right. I don't know what to do with myself now; I feel like a new man."
When asked, Ware said he is definitely returning for the 2017 season - where he plays is the big question.
Ware said. "Hopefully I come back there, and I want to, but it's also about the man who writes the checks and that's [team executive John] Elway. But I'm ready, I'm passionate and I want to lead that defense."
Ware added that "I'm working right there so everybody can see I'll be ready to go next season."
With Ware seemingly healthy and willing to come back, the ultimate decision will come down to John Elway who will have to decide how much he can afford to spend on a 35-year old pass rusher who will likely be on a snap count.
I think for the leadership ability he brings to the locker room, and his play on the field, when healthy, it is definitely something that Elway should consider. The question then becomes about what number is the right one?
Ware took a bit of a reduced salary last year, with the option to earn some of it back in incentives. He ended up counting $8m against the cap in 2016. For Ware to come back in 2017, that number likely needs to be cut in half, in my opinion.
We’ll see how it shakes out over the next few weeks, but it is a good sign that Ware is healthy, interested in returning, and Vance Joseph has indicated to him that he is in the mix.
One last thought: With a stacked edge rusher class, I could see Denver drafting a pass rusher in the mid/later rounds of this draft. If they do that, having Ware on the team to mentor and teach a new rookie would be another bonus. Especially with the extensive use of the NASCAR package last year on 3rd and long, which utilizes three edge rushers on the field together, Denver needs to continue to cultivate a deep stable of pass rushers.