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DeMarcus Ware was prepared for, cool with Broncos pay cut


during Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.

Patrick Smith

The Broncos weren’t afraid to go to quarterback Peyton Manning last year and ask for a pay cut. So in a roundabout way, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware considered it almost an honor for them to do the same with him this offseason.

The veteran pass-rusher has a chance to earn back all his money in incentives, but said in his discussions with team executive John Elway, it was clear his leadership was valued.

“I knew with all the moves in free agency and guys that were unrestricted or restricted, I knew that they were going to come at me and say, ‘DeMarcus, do you want to take a pay cut. Do you want to restructure.’ I was welcoming it,” he said in comments distributed by the team. “I know that it’s that part of my career where what I bring to the game is intangible things [like] leadership, motivating the guys and getting out there and playing when I can. But also, you’ve got guys like [linebacker] Shaq [Barrett]. You’ve got guys like Shane [Ray] that were productive this year.

“One thing I saw and I told him, I said, ‘I feel like those guys are ready, but they also need that veteran leadership.’ Whatever we need to do to keep me here, I was very involved with Elway talking back and forth with him. That’s why I like him. As a General Manager, you can talk to him and be man to man and say, ‘This is what we can’t do and this is what we can do,’ and talk face to face and get it done.”

The Broncos have seen Manning retire and a number of players chase the money out the door, but Ware said he thinks they’re still very much a contender, so long as they maintained some of stability (the kind which he thinks he’s qualified to provide).

“I always say don’t put the cart before the bull,” Ware said. “I feel like that’s what Elway did saying, ‘We just lost a leader in Peyton [Manning], but we still need our solid guy that’s keeping the guys right and making sure the maturity on the team stays at a level to where everybody stays focused.’ Because he knows I’m not here for money. I’m here to win championships. I’m here to go over and beyond and build a legacy for the Denver Broncos. I think this was a smart move by everybody and I’m glad I’m still able to be here playing.”

Ware could have certainly forced his hand and ended up in the open market, but it’s clear he values being in Denver, and his own place in the organization.