Franchising Spencer: Strategy or Stupidity?

Raise your hand if you rolled your eyes when the Cowboys slapped the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer. After reading comments and a few articles on this move, it looks like Cowboy Nation is 50/50 with it, maybe less. Let’s be frank about this, why would we franchise an average player who had one good season (contract year) and has admittedly taken plays off in previous seasons and games? This move will only end in one of two ways: strategy or stupidity.

Unfortunately, Jerry Jones‘ history would dictate Spencer will get an over-rewarded long term deal which will bite us in the ass in a year or two from now. Spencer has not shown he can be the every game, reliable, defensive beast we need for the 4-3. He didn’t show it in the 3-4, for all intents and purposes Spencer has been a 1st round bust, slightly above Marcus Spears, a certified bust. The draft is deep with defensive line players, where you can land a solid player in the 1st  or 2nd round this year easily. So why tag Spencer?

Strategy for the draft

I’m not holding by breath, but the logical reasoning in tagging Spencer should be to sign and trade him. Give him a decent, tradable contract and get something in return that can be used towards adding firepower to our draft. Right now the Cowboys will have a pick in the first 6 rounds, so with the draft being so deep on the front end, this would be the year to accumulate a few more picks. You can trade Spencer, the Chiefs trade of Matt Cassel from the Patriots a few years ago illustrated that a deal can be made for a franchised player in a “sign and trade” scenario. Keeping Spencer is too risky, his effort wreaks of Haynesworth, in where you only bust ass in contract years and cadillac the rest of the contract. Can you imagine if Spencer gets his deal and that’s it, that’ll be all she wrote…don’t expect the same season from last year, forget that. You can expect his injury bugs to pop-up again, take plays off, etc. Get the hell outta here.

The Cowboys should be looking at developing the line from the draft, give Crawford his shot,  but continue to draft for the line and give us some fresh players in rotation. The Cowboys Super Bowl 4-3 defenses were deep in d-line rotation, you had Chad Hennings, Russell Maryland, Jimmie Jones, Tony Casillas, very deep, and constantly harassing the QB. The Cowboys need to follow this same model. You’ve got to give DeMarcus Ware some help, this is why Charles Haley was so effective at DE, he had people being disruptive up and down the defensive line. Kiffin will be looking to get younger and faster on the defensive line, and this year’s crop fits the bill. Get it done Jerry.

Clues for 1st round pick

So, hypothetically speaking, lets assume the Cowboys keep Spencer under the tag or under a new contract, how would this effect the draft? To me, if the Cowboys keep Spencer the 1st round would undoubtedly address the offensive line. Like the d-line, the offensive line is pretty deep on the front end of the draft and the Cowboys cannot go into 2013 with the same bunch of pushovers – cannot happen. We would be in prime position to take a top flight guard or tackle, both are needs. We all know Free is not going to turn it around, and I’m not sold on Bernadeau at guard, you can bet Romo and Murray feel the same. Upgrade the offensive line or expect a carbon copy of the last two dreadful seasons.

If Spencer is traded before or during the draft, all bets are off, the 18th pick can go either way. We could see a trade up using the pick we acquired in trading Spencer or we could trade down and accumulate extra picks. The first two round would go defense/offense or vice versa. Spencer is the key in this draft either way.

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