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Cowboys Mailbag: March 6, 2012

/ Editor's Note: Each weekday,'s writers will field two questions from the fans. Click here to email your question now. **

LARRY RAIFSNIDER BIRDSBORO, PA: Even though he's been tagged, the Cowboys don't have to keep Anthony Spencer. Is there a chance they would trade him if an outside linebacker is drafted early?

Rob: I get the feeling they franchised Spencer largely because they don't see an OLB in this draft that would be a clear upgrade. Based on that logic, I don't see a trade because they view him as an important piece to retooling the defense. Fans can disagree if they want, but Spencer isn't a guy they have to replace. There are other spots on defense that do need fixing, and they don't have enough cash and draft picks to fix everything. They do need to look for another rusher, though.

Josh: Maybe – maaaaybe – if a guy they're convinced will be an upgrade were to fall to them. The only player I see who might fit that bill is Melvin Ingram from South Carolina, and that's debatable. You just don't know what you're getting with any of these incoming rookies. I think the more likely result is Spencer signs a longer deal at some point this offseason. Settle in, he's going to be here a while.

KEN JACOBS DENVER, CO: What does the franchise tag being placed on Anthony Spencer say about Victor Butler's future as a Cowboy?

Rob:The club has basically said there isn’t a full-time replacement for Spencer on the roster. Emphasis on “full-time.” Butler has been productive as a situational pass rusher, but they clearly feel Spencer is a better all-around player on the strong side – rushing, playing the run, etc. There’s still a place for Butler in his role. But this goes back to that 2009 draft: they wouldn’t have to pay Spencer $8.8 million guaranteed if they already had a guy ready to step in.

Josh: It remains to be seen over the next year. He's under contract for one more season. Maybe he'll get extended playing time and convince the team he needs to be a starter. In that event, wouldn't you love to keep Spencer on the one-year franchise deal, and then have your pick of the two next spring. Sounds like a blog idea for me, actually. If the team thought there was a high likelihood of that, though, they wouldn't have gone to such lengths to keep Spencer.

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