Dallas Cowboys linebacker-turned-defensive end DeMarcus Ware is happy quarterback Tony Romo received his long-term extension, but the seven-time Pro Bowler would like to see Romo step up and take the team to the next level.
“I feel like everybody is deserving to whatever is given to him, but at the end of the day, to me it’s put up or shut up," Ware said during a Thursday appearance on SiriusXM radio (via the Dallas Morning News). "I’m just being straight-up honest with you. Get out there and be productive, and that’s with any player. Whatever they get, they’re deserving of it. You just got to get out there and play and I know he can be and will be the quarterback that is going to be the quarterback that is going to take us to the next level."
It's hard to argue with Ware, who has certainly lived up to the six-year, $78 million extension he signed midway through the 2009 season. Ware led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 in 2010, posted 19.5 sacks in 2011 and battled through injuries to lead the Cowboys with 11.5 sacks last season.
The pressure will certainly be on Romo the next two seasons.
According to a source with knowledge of the details of Romo's extension, his 2013 cash compensation has more than doubled, going from $11.5 million in his previous deal to $26.5 million, mostly through a $25 million signing bonus. The increase can be attributed to Romo holding all the leverage in contract negotiations with the Cowboys, who needed cap space to continue building their roster and were unable to use the franchise tag on Romo once his previous contract voided after the 2013 season. Romo had additional leverage to get an extension done this offseason as previous restructures of his contract to clear cap space would have forced the Cowboys to carry $8.181 million in "dead money" from Romo's signing bonuses on their 2014 cap, even if the quarterback was playing elsewhere.
Romo is due $13.5 million in fully guaranteed base salary in 2014 and has a $21.773 million cap figure. Romo's cap number is scheduled to increase to $25.273 million in 2015. Romo has a $17 million base salary in 2015 and currently $15 million of that salary is guaranteed for injury only. Half of that injury only guarantee — $7.5 million — will become fully guaranteed if Romo is on the Cowboys' roster on the third day of the 2014 league year, with the remaining $7.5 million becoming fully guaranteed if Romo is on the Cowboys' roster on the third day of the 2015 league year.
Getting back to Ware, the 2005 first-round pick is looking forward to a more simpler role as the team moves to a 4-3 defense, in which Ware will play defensive end.
"It’s a 4-3. It’s maybe a little bit more simpler for guys," said Ware. "I just have one job now, getting to the quarterback. Holding the edge is still the same like the 3-4, but the cornerbacks can be a little bit more diverse in knowing what’s going and maybe being a little bit more aggressive can create a little bit more productivity.”