Breaking Bad: Cowboys Anthony Spencer May Never Be The Same Again


Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones announced on Tuesday that All-Pro defensive end Anthony Spencer was considering having microfracture surgery on his left knee in order to repair some articular cartilage damage, effectively ending his season. The decision to proceed with this procedure was announced later that day by Spencer’s agent, Jordan Woy. Unfortunately, this could also be the beginning of the end for the Cowboys 1st round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer (93) on the bench during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently, microfracture surgery was always in the discussion for Spencer this offseason. This according to The Dallas Morning News who interviewed Woy on Tuesday:

"“It came up early in the process that there was a possibility but there was a hope by doing the scope that everything could be repaired and everything would be good. It stems from the original injury and it got a little bit worse…(His doctor) indicated he doesn’t have any issues or problems with him coming back 100 percent and being able to play. I don’t see that being the case at all affecting him long term. It’s one of those things if he goes out and plays on it this year it could cause more damage that would affect him long term.”"

Obviously, this is his agent putting a positive spin on the situation. But the unknown question is still: Will Spencer be the same player after the surgery? Regardless, you have to believe his stock value is dropping around the league. The 30-year old is a free agent at the end of the year and Woy believes he’ll be ready for teams to take a look at him next offseason:

"“By the time he walks through the door with the Dallas Cowboys or any other team, he will be able to take part in their off-season programs. Anthony is disappointed that he will not get a chance to play again this season. But he will come back totally healthy. This is something that will be corrected and will not keep him from being a great football player.”"

Former New England general manager and five time NFL executive of the year Scott Pioli cringed at the news. In an interview with Pro Football Talk, Pioli said this type of surgery often indicates that the end of a player’s career is drawing near:

"“Well, the first thing is when a head coach and a general manager hear the words ‘microfracture surgery’, we know as doctors have told us that’s the beginning of the end or it’s very near the end. So when you hear that, you know from a market value stand point, it’s not going up. And this is not good for Anthony Spencer and his market value.”"

The Cowboys front office is well aware of the stigma that is attached with this type of surgery. Some athletes are able to return to top form after having like NBA players John Stockton and Jason Kidd. Others like Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and Greg Oden are never quite the same.

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones told that he understands the situation, but he doesn’t have time to dwell on it at this point:

"“We’re in a position where we have to think about this season, and we’ll address Anthony’s situation later. He’s been a great player for us, and we’ll see how that goes at the end of the year.”"

This latest twist in the Anthony Spencer signing saga could actually work in Dallas’ favor. For the past two seasons, the Cowboys front office and Spencer’s representatives have been unable to reach an agreement on a long term deal. Instead, Dallas has opted to franchise tag him for each of the past two seasons.

With this new turn of events, you’d have to believe Spencer’s salary expectations would be lowered significantly.  And you’d also expect a bit of loyalty from him after the Cowboys dished out over $10 million this year on a player who only played 34 total snaps and made two tackles for the entire season. All points in Dallas’ favor for finally signing Spencer to a long term deal that benefits both parties.

But are the Cowboys willing to take the risk on a 30-year old with a possible career-threatening knee injury? Like the younger Jones said: “we’ll see how that goes”.