Deadline Looms For Franchising Spencer

IRVING, Texas -- Monday is franchise tag day in the NFL, and the Cowboys have until 3 p.m. (CT) to officially designate the tag on outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. It's a decision they've been weighing for weeks, and one that has seemed more likely as the deadline approaches.

The market for pass rushers has gotten thinner -- most recently, San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks signed a lucrative extension last week -- which means Spencer would be one of the top unrestricted free agents come March 13 if he isn't franchised.

Spencer had six sacks from the strong side position last year and is one of the defense's better run stoppers. Losing him would force the Cowboys to find at least one replacement in the draft and/or free agency, as well as fill various other needs on defense and the rest of the roster.

Franchising him would protect the Cowboys against potential suitors and buy them until mid-July to negotiate a new contract with their 2007 first-round pick. Team owner/GM Jerry Jones has said retaining Spencer wouldn't preclude them from adding another rusher.

Spencer would be guaranteed $8.8 million if he signed the one-year tag. But he most certainly would like long-term security, and the Cowboys probably would rather negotiate a more cap-friendly number that saves them space to sign other free agents.

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