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Does Ben Gardner's New Number Spell The End Of Spencer's Time In Dallas?

Ben Gardner tweeted out a picture of his new number on Monday – a seemingly mundane development, except for the number in question.

Gardner, a seventh-round pick out of Stanford last spring, wore No. 71 for his rookie summer, up until he was sent to injured reserve following surgery on his shoulder. In his second season, he revealed he'll be wearing No. 93.

That makes plenty of sense on the surface -- Gardner's old number wasn't typical for a pass rusher. The issue arises when realizing that No. 93 has been occupied since 2007 by Anthony Spencer, who is currently still a free agent.

It's been a quiet month for Spencer since free agency opened. Reports came out in March that the eight-year veteran was visiting New Orleans and former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. There hasn't been much other news about him – including whether the Cowboys intended to bring him back into the fold.

Judging by the fact that a second-year defensive end -- who has yet to take a professional snap – has switched to his number, it doesn't seem so likely.

Spencer is coming off a rebound season that saw him play in 13 games and register one sack after undergoing microfracture knee surgery. It wasn't the form fitting of the 2012 Pro Bowler, who earned himself back-to-back franchise tags after tallying 17 combined sacks during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

He did seem to come on stronger toward the tail end of the season, including the playoff, however.

The Cowboys signed him to a one-year, veteran minimum contract last spring after he missed 15 games in 2013 with that knee injury. His improvement down the stretch in 2014 led some to believe that he might re-sign on a similar deal.

The team could easily rearrange the numbers if they do in fact decide to re-sign Spencer. But Spencer is a former first-round pick and a Pro Bowler – an eight-year starter with 33 sacks and 385 tackles to his name.

If the Cowboys intended to bring him back for 2015, it's doubtful they'd give his number away at all.


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