There is a lot of debate going on these days concerning the future of Anthony Spencer with the Dallas Cowboys. Rumor has it that the Cowboys are considering using the franchise tag on Spencer to keep him from testing the free agent market. I've got some major concerns with the Cowboys considering what I believe to be severely overpaying Spencer for even one season.
I do understand that Spencer has value beyond pressuring the quarterback. If you want to base his value to the team purely on sacks then it looks like Spencer should be allowed to move on since he doesn't put up big sack numbers. But Spencer's real value comes from his ability to play against the run. He is a very good run defender. Unfortunately he is inconsistent at best in getting pressure on the quarterback.
So the Cowboys need to decide if it is worth it to hit Spencer with the franchise tag and guarantee him $8.8 million to be a very good run defender. That seems like a big price to pay for a guy who isn't a premier player and doesn't make many game changing plays. I think the Cowboys would be making a mistake to franchise Spencer.
I'd like to see the Cowboys allow Spencer to test the free agent market. He'll likely find that his free agent value isn't anywhere close to $8.8 million per year. And, if by some miracle, another team makes him an offer like that then the Cowboys should let him walk.
I think Spencer should only be back if he can be signed to a reasonable deal. Somewhere along the lines of 3 years for $15 million or 4 years for $20 million sounds about right. The Cowboys have a lot of areas of need and the last thing they need to do is overpay because they are afraid to go find another outside linebacker who can play the run.
Outside linebackers who can play the run are much easier to find then outside linebackers who are good/great pass rushers. So, if the Cowboys make an offer that is reasonable and Spencer finds a better deal elsewhere, then let him go. I have no doubt that a combination of Victor Butler and a reasonably priced free agent can provide just as much as Spencer has over the last few years.