There’s no question about it, Anthony Spencer was a very effective linebacker during the 2012 season. Being a primary part of the Dallas Cowboys defense, Spencer unmasked 11.5 sacks, and he took over play calls when Bruce Carter and Sean Lee were down with injuries. He was a great run stopper and ultimately was able to pressure the quarterback throughout the year. All of his efforts earned him another franchised tag for a second year in a row, this time worth 10.6 million as oppose to last years 8.8 million franchise tag. Although, this move should be praised by many it got highly criticized by others. The knock on Spencer is his paycheck. Many Cowboy enthusiast believe he’s an O.K. player, yet his salary earnings reflect that of an elite player.
Spencer’s 10.6 million dollar franchise tag will take up a huge chunk of cap space that the Cowboys will have to endure if they don’t give Spencer a long term contract. The Cowboys can still opt to trade Spencer as well, but it is unlikely they will receive a lot for Spencer due to the fact that he still needs to be signed long term. Furthermore, if the Cowboys do choose to ride another year with Spencer and pay him the 10.6 million, it will give the Cowboys time to either find a replacement for Spencer or secure his position long term.
Another downside to Spencer is that he is well undersized to play a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. He currently weighs in at 250 pounds and will certainly have to add some size if he plans to be successful in Monte Kiffin’s defense. This problem was also acknowledged by Jerry Jones which may lead some to believe that Jerry Jones franchise tagging Anthony Spencer is just an attempt to trade him away for draft picks. Although, the chances of a trade are slim, Jerry Jones has that option if he decides he wants to trade Spencer. Whereas if he didn’t franchise tag him, Jerry would have lost Spencer in free agency.
In the end, keeping Anthony Spencer for at least another season would be a safe decision. If Spencer wasn’t franchise tagged, the Cowboys would have just created a void opposite of DeMarcus Ware,which wouldn’t be an easy fix. Additionally, it prevents another hole on this team and also gives the Cowboys a chance to develop a young defensive end behind Spencer, as oppose to just plugging a new player in his position.
Another positive is that it will also allow the Cowboys to focus on other key areas like the offensive line and finding a replacement for recently released safety Gerald Sensabaugh. Overall, Spencer has finally become a force on this defense and another year may confirm his value to this team. If Spencer manages to ride off one more season of success with the Cowboys maybe Jerry Jones will reward him with another big paycheck. Knowing the downsides and upsides about Anthony Spencer, do you think he’s worth the Cowboys time and money? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.