Monday signifies the deadline to franchise players. While the Cowboys are unlikely to franchise any player their last franchised player still seeks a new contract.
Anthony Spencer was terrific this season. When injuries plagued starters Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Jay Ratliff and even DeMarcus Ware, it was Spencer who assumed the role of leader and playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.
Spencer, in his new role, put up a stat line that looked like this: 95 tackles, 11 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The question isn’t if he’s a good player, because he proved this season that he is. The question that needs to be posed is, “is he worth investing big money in long-term?”
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having Spencer on this team. He’s tremendous against the run and is above average when rushing the passer. However, he’s also been inconsistent in his career. This year aside, statistic trends would tell you that Anthony Spencer is a 60 tackles and 5.5 sacks a year type player.
Am I really supposed to believe that he suddenly turned the corner?
The Cowboys are a cap-strapped team who don’t have any signs of relief over the next few years. Without deals to their upcoming free agents in 2014 and 2015 they are already committed to $110M in 2014 and $104M in 2015. The cap in those years is projected to be about $125M and you will have to re-sign Tony Romo, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant.
Is Spencer worth giving a substantial contract to and gambling on getting to sign your young core players?
The answer is no. Spencer is 29 years old; he’s had one season where he was very good. Additionally, you don’t know how he will perform as a strong defensive end in the Tampa 2 defense. There are a lot of variables when considering paying Spencer but the most important is that the Cowboys are already in trouble for paying older guys big contracts just to watch them decline.
I know many of you won’t agree but it’s my honest opinion that resigning Spencer would be fiscally irresponsible. The Cowboys need to plan for the future, they need to preserve the young talent they have and build a team around them. Things are getting brighter from a financial point of view in the NFL and the Cowboys need to have the foresight to prepare their team accordingly.