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DeMarcus Ware put on IR, will have back surgery

Now that the Denver Broncos have been eliminated from playoff contention, they are putting their defensive leader on ice.

Veteran linebacker DeMarcus Ware was placed on season-ending injured reserve because of a ruptured disc in his back, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said Thursday. The team also put Kayvon Webster (concussion) on IR.

Kubiak said Ware will undergo surgery Friday.

Ware battled lingering back pain throughout the 2015 season and into the 2016 offseason. After restructuring his contract to reflect a diminished role, he managed just 4.5 sacks in 10 games this year.

Now 34 years old, Ware can still get to the quarterback as a situational pass rusher on limited snaps. He remains unsigned for 2017, however, and the Broncos have a pair of promising outside linebackers in Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett.

His situation will be one to monitor over the next few months. Does he want to return for a 13th NFL season? If so, does Denver want him back? It seems he answered the first question via Instagram on Wednesday.

The nine-time Pro Bowler will finish the 2016 season ranked eighth all time with 138.5 career sacks, just one behind Jason Taylor and three behind Hall of Famer Michael Strahan. Although his own case for Canton is already strong enough to merit a gold jacket, it wouldn't hurt to keep climbing that list and remove any shred of doubt in the voters' minds.

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