After months of talks that intensified over the past two weeks, the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker agreed Monday to a six-year, $78 million deal that runs through the 2015 season and guarantees him $40 million.
"I feel like I work really hard and am really deserving of what they've given me," Ware said. "All this is behind me now. It's time to get to work. You know what it's time to bring home. I'm not going to say what it is, we're just going to show you, and I'm going to show you."
Jones called Ware a "cornerstone player" for the Cowboys, who have gone 12 seasons without winning a playoff game and longer than that since winning three Super Bowl championships in four seasons from 1992 to 1995.
Ware, who was in the final season of the contract that he signed after being the 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft, has 57.5 sacks while starting all 70 of his regular-season games.
"Going into this negotiation, how do you ask for too much money for DeMarcus Ware given what he's accomplished?" said Ware's agent, Pat Dye. "We were asking for a lot more money than we ended up settling on. ... Ultimately they convinced us they were not going to pay DeMarcus like an elite quarterback, and certainly we understood that."
There were initial talks about a deal after last season, but Dye said contracts signed in August by quarterbacks Eli Manning (six years, $97 million with $35 million guaranteed from the New York Giants) and Philip Rivers (six years, $93 million with $38 million guaranteed from the San Diego Chargers) provided "some kind of ceiling" and narrowed the focus in negotiations. Talks picked up during the Cowboys' bye week, which preceded their 37-21 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
"We're certainly not going to be a team that's going to step up and pay a defensive player like a quarterback," said Stephen Jones, the Cowboys' vice president and the owner's son. "We're not going to do that."
Still, Jones and Dye said the negotiations with Ware never were contentious.
"It's about getting what you deserve," Ware said. "I feel like I've gotten what I deserve in my situation."
Jerry Jones said he shook hands with Ware before Sunday's game, agreeing to the deal they finalized Monday. The two were seen talking and laughing as they walked together in the tunnel toward the locker room after the game.
Ware has a unique blend of strength, agility and quickness, allowing him to make plays and be a dominating force all over the field. He has increased his sack total each season, from eight as a rookie to 11.5 to 14 and then an NFL-leading 20 last season.
Ware has four sacks in the past two games despite playing with a stress fracture in his left foot after being shut out in the first four games this season.
"He probably can play with one leg, so it's not something that has to do with his ability," Cowboys teammate Marcus Spears said Monday. "It's just having that mentality of having to overcome that and playing well. It just adds to his legend."
Ware is the fourth player in Cowboys history with three consecutive 10-sack seasons. The last Dallas player with more than Ware in a single season was Hall of Fame defensive tackle Randy White with 16 in 1978.
There also was Ware's NFL record-matching streak of 10 consecutive games with a sack (2007-08), the longest in the NFL in 15 years -- though it isn't recognized as a Cowboys record. Harvey Martin had sacks in 11 consecutive games from 1976 to 1977 before the NFL considered sacks an official stat.
Jerry Jones said what Ware has accomplished is far beyond what former coach Bill Parcells, who used to compare the linebacker to Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, expected when he was drafted. Jones said Ware has really exceeded everybody's expectations.
"He's a cornerstone player for this franchise and will be for a long time to come," Jones said. "It is something special that he's the type of person that if you're to spend the time that we all spend and the energy that we spend with the Cowboys, this is who you want to hang out with and who you want to be around."
"I've been lucky to be around a lot of good ones. He's at the top of the class, and it doesn't take long to call the roll," Phillips, also the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, said of Ware. "He's an all-around player, and he plays the run well, too. That's what you really like about him.
"I was around Merriman, he had 17 sacks in 12 games. Of course, Reggie White and Bruce Smith were special. (Ware) is special. He's a special guy in that way. He's got all the things it takes, and he utilizes them and he works hard at it. He's only going to get better."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press