Many view the incentive-based contract the Dallas Cowboys gave Anthony Spencer as a perfect solution for both parties. It was a very smart decision to use these incentives as motivation for improved health and solid production, but it may also come back and bite the Cowboys.
Spencer’s base salary will only be $1.25 million with no signing bonus involved. He has incentives for being on the gameday roster each week. He can earn $46,875 but it is capped at $750,000. If he racks up seven sacks he will gain $250,000, nine sacks will add $500,000 and 11 sacks, which would tie his career high, would tack on an extra $750,000.
Spencer is trying to come back from microfracture surgery. At one time this was a career-ending type of injury. The Cowboys didn’t want to dish out major money to him with his health in serious doubt. Other teams shared the same type of concerns. Spencer entertained the idea of signing with other teams during free agency, but didn’t like what he was hearing. The Washington Redskins and New York Giants voiced concerns about when he might return to play.
When he’s healthy he is a force on the field. Many teams would jump at the opportunity to sign him. Unfortunately nobody can predict when he will be back or if he will be the same player — not even Spencer.
The Cowboys are prepared for the realistic scenario in which Spencer is unable to get on the field. If he’s put on the physically unable to perform list or injured reserve then he will only get $423,000 of his base salary.
So where is the bad in all of this?
The downfall to this type of contract is the added pressure it puts on Spencer to get back on the field. By using those incentives, the Cowboys are pushing the issue for him to get back on the field immediately. They may not be saying it publicly, but it is out there for the world to see in writing.
I don’t think the Cowboys organization would intentionally put him out there if he wasn’t ready and healthy. Let’s face it, Spencer wants to get out there and start earning that extra money. He may end up pushing himself a little harder to do so. Hopefully it doesn’t result in a setback or further injury. He must practice good judgement and listen to his body and not focus on the potential dollar signs.