The Cowboys have decided to go in another direction with veteran pass rusher Greg Ellis, as today the team announced that he will not be back for the 2009 season. Owner Jerry Jones made the announcement that Ellis, who is a 12-year-pro, will either be traded or released before the start of the 2009 season. With the release, the Cowboys figure to get about $4 million in salary cap relief while remaining on the hook for $1.5 million in guaranteed money.
It’s not like Ellis has not been productive for the Cowboys, he has pilied up 77 sacks in 11 seasons. He also led the team in sacks six times, the second-best total in club history. The downfall came when the team drafted Anthony Spencer in the first round two seasons ago, and have been trying to have him overtake Ellis, but now have simply opened the door for Spencer by in some fashion getting rid of Ellis.
“Certainly we had some issues regarding business—contracts,” Jones said of his dealings with Ellis. “But that hasn’t been reflected relative to how he’s played the game and how he’s competed for the Cowboys. I feel like we have a very good relationship.”
One current teammate that spoke out about Ellis today was DE Demarcus Ware, who now takes over as the teams leader on defense without question. “He was a mentor to me when I first came in and also we became really good friends,” said Ware. “Now we’re sort of like brothers. We did everything that we could to sort of help the team. But now he’s going probably somewhere else to benefit that team, and I’ve got to do what I need to do to help this team out.”
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips says Spencer is ready to be a full-time starter. “At the end of training camp, I thought he was going to have a tremendous year,” Phillips said. “He got hurt early and that stopped his progress. As long as he doesn’t get hurt, I don’t think his progress will be stopped. He’s a real talented player.”