The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer (USA Today Sports Images)
Last offseason, the Cowboys used an $8.856 million franchise tag to retain the rights to Spencer, a first-round pick out of Purdue in 2007. The Cowboys and Spencer's agents - he switched from Roosevelt Barnes to Woy last April - were unable to reach agreement on a multi-year contract.
Spencer is coming off the most productive season of his career, posting 95 tackles and finishing second on the Cowboys with 11 sacks. Barring a multi-year contract, Spencer will earn $10.627 million in 2013, a mandatory 20 percent increase over last year's tender.
With the Cowboys pressed up against the salary cap, and moving from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense under new coordinator Monte Kiffin, there was a question as to whether or not the team would allow the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Spencer to test the free agent market. Spencer likely would have drawn interest from the New Orleans Saints, who hired former Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan this offseason.
Spencer, who has 32.5 sacks during his six-year career in Dallas, should be able to acclimate to the Cowboys' new defensive system as he played defensive end at Purdue and has always been a solid player when defending the run. A bigger question is who on the Cowboys roster will be forced to restructure their contracts to accommodate such a large cap number while the two sides work towards a new contract.
Last week, the Cowboys restructured the contracts of DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr, Jason Witten, Nate Livings, and Miles Austin. Earlier on Monday, the Cowboys informed safety Gerald Sensabaugh that he was being released, which freed up $3 million in cash (Sensabaugh's base salary, which would have been fully guaranteed on March 12) and $1.4 million in cap space for the 2013 season. The Cowboys will need do some more trimming to be cap compliant when the new league year begins on March 12.
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