January 25, 2013; Ko Olina, HI, USA; NFC outside linebacker Anthony Spencer of the Dallas Cowboys (93) looks on during practice at NFC media day for the 2013 Pro Bowl at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Will Anthony Spencer Be A Dallas Cowboy Next Season?

The only topic hotter than Tony Romo and his future with the Dallas Cowboys is that of Anthony Spencer and what will be done with him.

Right now the debate is whether or not to place the franchise tag on him once again to keep him around for another year.

Some experts suggest that the front office will place the tag on Spencer in an effort to buy more time to work out a long-term deal.

Many Dallas fans see this as a deal that has to be done. Whether it be a long-term deal or even just the one year that the franchise tag provides, most Cowboys loyal want a star on Spencer’s helmet starting next season.

Despite the overwhelming opinion of fans, many are saying that it may not be a feasible option to bring him back. In recent years Jerry Jones hasn’t done the organization many favors as far as salary cap and contracts are concerned. Throw in the ten million dollar fine for front-loading Miles Austin’s contract and you can see what I’m getting at.

Salary cap is just one argument. There are even a few suggestions of the high risk of an Anthony Spencer contract seeing as how he is coming off of a contract year, especially considering the price tag.

Without a doubt Spencer is coming off of the best season in his NFL career. He proved to be a major commodity, and my only disappointment was not being able to see Demarcus Ware at full strength to take advantage of the pressure Spencer was pulling away from him.

I’ll be the first to say that I think we need to find a way to bring this guy back. Many are saying that he only played well due to the situation. While that may be true, perhaps it lit a fire underneath him to go get more. Now that he’s shown what he can do fans will expect no less, and I would imagine his teammates won’t either.

Truth is, I was always a fan of Spencer even before this season. I truly feel he was a better than average linebacker who got a bad rap because of his lack of sacks and also because he played opposite of the aforementioned Ware. Even so he excelled in other parts of his game. Many considered him one of the better run stoppers and coverage linebackers in the league.

His freak potential and athletic ability is what kept me believing he was truly a commodity. Hopefully I’m not the only one that remembers the unbelievable field goal block against the Seahawks two seasons ago.

Now this is where the argument gets interesting. With the new hiring of Monty Kiffin, the switch back to a 4-3 defense is official. It’s already been made clear that Spencer is no stranger to the defensive end position. After all he was an outstanding end at Purdue. Why else would he have been drafted in the first round?

All of that is clear but now let’s return to everything that we knew before this season. Great coverage linebacker…check. Great run stopper…check. Freakish athletic ability…check. Great at creating quarterback pressure…nope. All of those things are great to have on a resume but as a pure defensive end there lies the argument. While his run stopping ability is a huge plus, coverage ability is no longer relevant, and while unrealized potential is definitely something that can be taken advantage of it’s about as useful as a submarine with a screen door if it never becomes…realized. That sack ability and quarterback pressure he put on display this year will have to become a permanent part of his arsenal.

With all of this in mind is it worth it? Assuming the Cowboys can find a way to keep him on board should it be done? Are there better, cheaper options in the draft? Is the risk worth the potential of the reward?

Now that Spencer has put on display what we expected of him all along there is no going back.

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