After releasing DeMarcus Ware on the first day of the 2014 NFL free agency signing period, the Dallas Cowboys are in the market for a defensive end. The problem is they don’t have much cap space to use on a new starter. The team is reportedly interested in former Denver Broncos pass-rusher Robert Ayers, although no official visit has been scheduled yet. Ayers would be a good signing for Dallas, but only if he came at a bargain price.
Now let’s be clear up front: The Cowboys aren’t going to overpay for Ayers because they simply can’t — they don’t have the cap room to do that. However, signing him to a middle-range deal could get tricky if the two sides are off by a $1 million or so and while that may not seem like much to an NFL team, it is when that team has as little cap space as Dallas.
In addition, Ayers isn’t a prize free agent pass-rusher. He never panned out as a third-round pick for the Broncos, although he did have his best pro season in 2013 with 5.5 sacks and 29 tackles. That’s not the type of production the Cowboys need from a player to replace Ware but if signed to a reasonable deal, Ayers wouldn’t be replacing Ware single-handedly.
Dallas will attempt to use a pass-rushing committee in 2013, which is really its only option with as little cap space as Jerry Jones has left the team. Ayers needs coaching and the right system to succeed and while the Cowboys aren’t known for developing under-achieving players, Rod Marinelli could be just what the doctor ordered for a player like Ayers.
Again, the bottom line is money. Ayers will have to agree to sign with the Cowboys for a very lowball deal, which he won’t do if another team with more cap room offers him more years and/or more cash simply because it can. At this point, it’s unlikely Ayers will sign in Dallas, but if he doesn’t get any better offers, Marinelli could convince him to help revive the Cowboys’ pass rush in 2014.