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Outside linebackers


Cowboys fans should be pleased to know that owner Jerry Jones is about to break the bank for DeMarcus Ware, who has just one year remaining on his current deal.

Ware is arguably the most important piece of the Cowboys' long-term future. He led the league with 20 sacks last season and finished second in voting for NFL defensive MVP. Jones will no doubt make Ware one of the highest-paid players in Cowboys history.

Now, what do you do with everyone else?

Greg Ellis is slated to count $6.25 million against the salary cap in 2009. The Cowboys believe he's nothing more than a third-down pass rusher. While that's an important role, Ellis believes he's still capable of doing more.

The question facing the franchise: Do you release Ellis outright, or do you ask him to accept a pay cut and a backup role?

In the coaches' minds, Anthony Spencer is the starter opposite Ware. Late in the season, Wade Phillips acknowledged Spencer would have been the starter if the club hadn't felt the need to placate Ellis by starting him instead.

Spencer, who is signed through 2011, recently was arrested at a bar outside of Indianapolis on charges of public intoxication. That's not what the Cowboys need.

Carlos Polk and Justin Rogers are both worth keeping because of their roles on special teams. Steve Octavien was signed in late November to provide depth.

Signing Ware to a long-term deal is probably the top priority at this position. Spencer may be disciplined by the league, but he'll be here next season.

As for Ellis, who knows what will happen? But the Cowboys may want to look for someone who could push Spencer and possibly play behind Ware.


Greg Ellis, Steve Octavien, Carlos Polk (unrestricted), Justin Rogers, Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware


Michael Boley Atlanta

Angelo Crowell Buffalo

Karlos Dansby* Arizona

Leroy Hill Seattle

Freddy Keiaho** Indianapolis

Bart Scott Baltimore

Terrell Suggs Baltimore

*Carries franchise tag **Restricted



-Feb. 15: Quarterbacks

-Feb. 16: Running backs

-Feb. 17: Tight ends

-Feb. 18: Wide receivers

-Feb. 19: Offensive line

-Feb. 20: Defensive ends

-Feb. 21: Defensive tackles

Today: Outside linebackers

-Monday: Inside linebackers

-Tuesday: Cornerbacks

-Wednesday: Safeties

-Thursday: Specialists

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 24, 2009

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Steve Vallos Name: Steve Vallos
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