With the recent signing of Monte Kiffin as their new defensive coordinator, the Dallas Cowboys will be facing a number of personnel decisions with the impending move to the 4-3 defense. One of the biggest names that could fall victim to the switch is outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.
Heading into the offseason without a contract, Spencer has a good chance to test the free agency waters as the Cowboys move towards a more tradition defensive scheme with the 4-3. Spencer fits better in a 3-4 defense and might not be worth the price of admission to bring back to Dallas in 2013.
The Cowboys slapped Spencer with the franchise tag in 2012, not wanting to hand the inconsistent linebacker a long-term deal. He responded with a terrific season, leading the team in tackles while also notching a career-high 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Despite his impressive production, Jerry Jones and Co. might not see signing Spencer to a multi-year deal worth the long-term risk. The Cowboys already have a significant chunk of their salary cap invested in fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who signed a seven-year, $79-million deal back in 2009. Dallas wouldn’t be wise to invest another big-money deal into one position considering the significant changes that loom just around the corner.
Coming off of an outstanding 2012 campaign, Spencer should have no problem landing a lucrative deal if he hits the open market. The former Purdue star would be a tremendous fit for a 3-4 defense looking to add some pass-rushing presence, and would likely be a hot commodity when free agency opened.
At this point, it’s all up to Jones and the Cowboys to decide whether or not Spencer is worth keeping around. He might not fit the 4-3 defensive scheme that Kiffin will likely implement once he takes over, but there’s no denying that Spencer can be an impact player when given the opportunity.
Can Kiffin find a spot for Spencer or will the Cowboys let him walk? Only time will tell.