The Dallas Cowboys have undergone a number of changes so far this offseason under owner Jerry Jones, but one thing will be the same in 2013 as it was last year, as the team decided to franchise linebacker Anthony Spencer for the second year in a row.
According to ESPNDallas.com, the team may still try to work out a long-term deal with Spencer, according to his agent, Jordan Woy, but if not, he will cost $10.6 million in 2013 as that is the franchise tag number for linebackers. The report also says there is a chance Spencer could be traded for draft picks.
Over the past few seasons Spencer has proven to be one of the essential players on defense for the Cowboys and last season he truly broke out, recording a career-high 11 sacks and a team-leading 95 tackles. He also added eight tackles for loss and 26 pressures on the quarterback, making him their most consistent pass rusher last season with DeMarcus Ware.
This is the second year in a row the team has decided to franchise Spencer and he would like to work out a deal with the team. Spencer played in 14 games last season and reached double-digit sacks for the first time. He has played in all but six of his games with the Cowboys over his career and he has been very durable, playing in all 16 games in four of his six seasons in the NFL.
He was thrust into an even more important position as play-caller on defense after both Sean Lee and Bruce Carter were injured and he proved to be very versatile, as he can play in various defensive schemes. He will move to defensive end as the Cowboys switch to a 4-3 scheme under new coordinator Monte Kiffin, but he still should be as productive from that position.
There is a chance that he would be traded, as Jerry jones said that he does not have the ideal speed for Kiffin's scheme and fit better into fired coordinator Rob Ryan's, who is now in New Orleans.
Jones said he was willing to work on a deal as long as it was reasonable, but with the team still needing to sign a number of free agents and quarterback Tony Romo to an extension, Spencer could be on his way out of Dallas. The Cowboys have worked out a number of agreements with players to restructure their deals, including Jason Witten and Brandon Carr, which may be able to enable them to keep Spencer.
If things keep moving as they are, there is a chance that Jones could trade both Spencer and Romo and start to rebuild from the ground up with a new quarterback. Romo currently has a $16.8 million cap figure and his deal would add a ton of dead money after next season, meaning the team is hoping to sign him to an extension.
Joe Flacco just became the highest-aid quarterback in NFL history and while Romo will likely not want that much, he will want to be in the top 10. Romo is getting older and his poor play in some of the team's biggest games over the past few years could mean a new home for the quarterback.
The past two seasons the Cowboys have lost on the final day of the year to miss out on winning the NFC East and Romo has won just one playoff game in his career. He also bobbled a snap on a kick attempt against the Seahawks in the postseason that would have set up a win for the Cowboys.