Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer signed his one-year $8.8 million tender on Monday to remain a member of the team. Spencer was an unrestricted free agent following the 2011 NFL season, but the Cowboys used the franchise tag to keep him in Dallas for at least one more season.
Since being tagged in early March, Spencer waited well over a month to sign the tender in hopes the team would offer him a long-term deal. That didn’t happen and while many believe the Cowboys should draft a pass-rusher in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, team owner Jerry Jones said that might not happen due to Dallas being “high on Victor Butler.”
Indeed, Butler is a fantastic player who needs more playing time. He recorded three sacks last year in a very limited amount of playing time, leading to Jones calling him an “efficient” player, which is an accurate adjective.
Spencer isn’t a bad player by any means, but he had a “decent” year in 2011, his fifth in the NFL. That’s way too long for a first-round pick to develop into a solid starter. Even then, Spencer still isn’t what the Cowboys need opposite DeMarcus Ware as a pass-rusher on the outside.
In five years with the Cowboys Spencer has accumulated 21.5 career sacks. Ware, another first-round pick, recorded 19.5 last season alone. Ware recorded 64.5 sacks in his first five NFL seasons, three times as many as Spencer.
Spencer could easily and should be traded before the 2012 NFL Draft. The Cowboys could use the picks to bolster other positions and add depth throughout the team while allowing Butler to earn a long-term deal in the final year of his rookie contract.
After “holding out” the first week of the Cowboys’ off-season conditioning program, Spencer will attend on Tuesday after singing the tender.