LEAGUE CITY, TX
Has Anthony Spencer played his last game for the Cowboys? What does this recent turn of events on his injury mean for his future in Dallas? [embedded_ad]
Rowan: It's possible he has, but I actually think this injury gives him a better chance of coming back. I thought he was a lock to be playing somewhere else next year, considering he'd have earned a decent contract for another team if he could have stayed healthy. He may have played his last down in Dallas, but how much will teams be willing to pay for a player potentially coming off microfracture surgery entering his 30s? If I had to guess, I'd say he's probably somewhere else next year. But the injury does open up the possibility of a smaller, short-term contract to stay.
David: There will be other defensive ends entering free agency, or coming out of the draft, in the spring who carry a smaller risk than Anthony Spencer. There's no guarantee they'll be Pro Bowl caliber players, but they also don't carry the same injury baggage Spencer will if he goes through with the surgery. It's true that Spencer would come at a smaller price tag, but is it worth the time and effort to try to get him 100 percent healthy – which is no guarantee to happen?
How is Jay Ratliff progressing? And if Anthony Spencer is out for an extended period of time, will Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli consider rotating Ratliff at end if he's healthy?
Rowan: We haven't seen much of him. Every so often, you'll see him roaming around the coaching offices or the weight room at Valley Ranch, but there hasn't been much of an update on how he's doing now halfway through his PUP stay. If he's ready to go by the time he's eligible to return, I don't expect to see him taking over for Spencer at end. I think he can be a force when healthy when paired at defensive tackle alongside Jason Hatcher, who's been one of the best players on defense this year.
David: Jason Garrett said Ratliff is progressing nicely so far in his recovery, but there's no telling for sure exactly how he's doing. I would advise against expecting Ratliff to be ready for a Week 7 showing against Philadelphia. If he gets healthy, I'd imagine it will take several weeks to work him into a full game routine. It's possible he could be ready for the home stretch of the season, but we'll see. Even if that happens, I think it's more likely he'd remain in the middle of the line.