After being named one of the big losers in the first three days of free agency, John Elway has scored a win by negotiating a restructure of DeMarcus Ware‘s contract. In so doing, Elway retains a key member of his edge rush, and more importantly keeps the heart and soul of the locker room and Von Miller‘s mentor in Denver for one more year. It also gives Elway more cap space to work on a long-term deal with Miller.

The Denver Post reported Saturday that Ware who was due $11.66 million next season, including a $3 million roster bonus due Sunday, has agreed to restructure.

The terms of the deal, per Ian Rapoport, appear to be very team-friendly with the full value available mostly by incentives.

The restructure keeps one of the best edge rush tandems in the league intact and sets the stage for a long-term deal to be ironed out with Von Miller, who currently is under the franchise tag. Miller has paid huge respect to Ware as the primary reason for his turnaround and growth over the past two years.

Elway’s ability to retain his defensive captain and the man who has been widely regarded as the heart and soul of the Denver locker room is the first major victory of the offseason. After losing Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to the Texans, he was panned by many critics for the decision to bring in Mark Sanchez as a replacement, even if just as a backup.

Denver also lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, and appear likely to lose C.J. Anderson (restricted free agent), while they have not retained a single one of their own unrestricted free agents to date.

And although Ware was not a free agent, his number against the cap was going to be a major hinderance in not only bringing back key free agents, but also in possibly negotiating a long-term deal for the Super Bowl 50 MVP, Miller. Keeping him would have been a bad financial move. Losing him would have been a devastating locker room move.

Ware was all smiles on Saturday as he headed out of Denver with his kids on spring break.

Von Miller has yet to comment publicly on the restructure, but Ware did have this to say to the Post:

“I’ve got a lot of gas in the tank,” he said. “Von was the one that added that gas to that fire for me. That’s why I’m playing the way that I’m playing right now. I don’t think about retiring. God still wants me to play. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. When I start bringing the cane out, you guys make sure that you tell me, ‘DeMarcus, it’s time to hang the cleats up.'”