The simple transaction of placing the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer last week might have been an easy process. But the direction the Cowboys can now take in this situation is anything but simple.
There are a lot of scenarios for the team regarding the franchise tag. They can keep Spencer on this one-year deal for $10.63 million. They can sign him to a long-term contract, which would lower his cap charge this season and likely help them be more active in free agency. Or the Cowboys could trade him to another team for a mid-round pick or two and let that team figure out how to re-sign him to a long-term contract.
Yes, I skipped over the scenario that a team signs him to an offer sheet and the Cowboys garner two No. 1 picks. Since it's not 2000 and his name isn't Galloway, I think we can throw that scenario out the door.
To me, the most likely of scenarios we will see is Spencer playing this season outright on the tender.
And if that happens, that could be good for a couple of reasons. First, we still don't know for sure if Spencer is really a consistent Pro Bowl type of player. He put up great numbers in a contract year, but the five seasons before that were below expectations.
Secondly, if he has turned the corner, we don't know how he will play now in the 4-3. Yes, he did it in college. I know a lot of people keep saying that. But until Northwestern gets placed on the schedule, I think it's safe to say things are different in the NFL. Let's just see how he reacts. Personally, I've said it for years: I think Spencer's best position is a 4-3 defensive end. I guess we're about to find out.
But lastly, since we're talking about what guys did in college, Tyrone Crawford played some 4-3, too. Now, you can throw that argument right back at me about what Crawford did in the Mountain West and I'll be the first to agree that things are much different in the pros, especially for those guys who play in smaller conferences. There are just only a few DeMarcus Wares in the world.
But the Cowboys drafted Crawford in the third round for a reason. He did seem like a "tweener" last year – a little too big for the outside linebacker and too small to play end – so this should be a better fit for him. [embedded_ad]
If Spencer indeed plays out this tender, it not only gives the Cowboys a chance to evaluate him for another season, and in some action in the 4-3 scheme, but it gives the team an even better look at Crawford, especially in a spot he's familiar with.