Would you rather? – Always a fun game to play with family and friends. Making tough decisions between two things can tell you a lot about a person and their priorities. In this case:
Do you value the offensive line or the defensive line more?
Will an addition to the offensive line make up for the subtraction of Spencer on the defensive line?
Are you more confident in a position change for Spencer or are you more confident you can find good-fit free agent on the offensive line?
You can word questions every which way but no matter how you look at it, this is a tough question to answer. And no, you cannot say, “Do both”. That answer is not acceptable to the game and frankly not very likely in reality.
The Cowboys are roughly $18M over the cap in 2013 so after some expected house cleaning they will be limited to what they can do in free agency. Spencer played like a top 5 OLB in the NFL last year.
The top OLB’s in the NFL make around $9M per year. It’s safe to assume Anthony is expecting something north of that in the $10M range. If the Cowboys resign Spencer to a deal like that they will have nothing left over to throw at an established offensive lineman in free agency.
If the Cowboys clear cap space (most easily done by extending Tony Romo) and decide to roll the dice and let Spencer walk, is there any guarantee a marque offensive lineman is even available in free agency? Word out of Denver is Ryan Clady (top offensive tackle on the market) will be franchised if a long-term deal is not reached. Will Andre Smith, Sebastian Vollmer, Will Beatty, Phil Loadholt even be available? After looking into each of them the answer is – Probably not. Their respective teams all have intensions to resign them and hinted (or outright stated) their willingness to use the franchise tag. So, with these top lineman off the market who is left?
The remaining top offensive lineman expected to hit the market are OT Jake Long, OT Branden Albert, OT Gosder Cherilus, and OG Andy Levitre. Are they worth dumping Anthony Spencer for? Keep in mind, letting Anthony test free agency doesn’t guarantee Dallas can sign anyone. The Cowboys could possibly let Spencer go and still not get an offensive lineman. It also wouldn’t keep them from eventually resigning Spencer if he didn’t like what he saw in free agency.
Bringing in a free agent OL doesn’t guarantee they will be a good fit with the current unit and Bill Callahan’s zone blocking scheme. Resigning Anthony Spencer doesn’t guarantee he will be a good fit for the strong side DE in Monte Kiffin’s new defense. If Spencer is resigned he’s going to get paid like a top DE but the move will be a gamble
What would YOU rather?
Resign Anthony Spencer or upgrade the offensive line?