DENVER -- DeMarcus Ware suffered through a disappointing 2016 season, undermined by a broken forearm and nagging back injury. Ware underwent surgery roughly a month ago to fix a disc issue in his back, and said then he planned to keep playing.
Ware, who will be 35 in July, repeated his desire on ESPN on Friday morning. He also indicated that new coach Vance Joseph is interested in him returning. It could be complicated. Ware will be a free agent in March, and has started only 18 games the past two seasons. He finished with a career-low four sacks in 2016.
The Broncos also possess depth at outside linebacker with blossoming former first-round pick Shane Ray and erstwhile Colorado State star Shaquil Barrett. Ray finished with a career-best eight sacks last season, second on the team to Von Miller's 13.5.
Ware, however, brings value beyond statistics. He is a leader in every way, coaching players on the field, in the locker room and in film study. Miller describes Ware as a big brother who helped steer his career back on track. Ware returned last season on a restructured contract. To facilitate a fourth year in Denver, Ware would likely have to work with the Broncos on an incentive-laden deal.
A former wrecking ball at Troy State, Ware is a nine-time Pro Bowler, including twice with the Broncos. Ware ranks eighth in NFL history with 138.5 sacks. He joined the Broncos as a free agent prior to the 2014 season, lured by the chance to win with Peyton Manning. Manning and Ware addressed Broncos' players prior to Super Bowl 50, leaving teammates inspired to pull off the upset over Carolina.