Breaking down Anthony Spencer's tag

IRVING, Texas -- Now that the Cowboys have placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, let’s look at some other aspects of the tag.

** The $8.8 million is guaranteed once Spencer signs the tender. He could choose to hold off on signing, which is what Ken Hamlin did in 2008, and skip the offseason program, organized team activities and minicamps. But he also runs the risk of the Cowboys rescinding the offer at any point, especially if they use a high draft pick in April. By then teams would not have as much salary-cap room as they would entering free agency.

** The Cowboys can still trade Spencer to another team. If a team wants to sign Spencer to an offer sheet, then they would be required to fork over two first-round draft picks. Remember Joey Galloway’s deal with the Cowboys? But the Cowboys could also swing a trade for different (lower) compensation. In 2006, Atlanta traded for New York Jets’ franchise player, John Abraham, in a three-way deal with Denver that cost the Falcons their first-round pick. In 2001, Aeneas Williams was traded from Arizona to St. Louis for second- and fourth-round picks.

** The Cowboys and Spencer’s agent, Roosevelt Barnes, have until July 16 to reach a deal on a long-term contract, if they want to come to such an arrangement. After July 16, Spencer has to play the season on the $8.8 million tag and the sides can’t sign a new deal until after the season is over.

** For those wondering how this affects the Cowboys’ ability to sign players in free agency, don’t be too worried. They can still do whatever it is they want by moving some money around. The Cowboys were $12.6 million under the cap before the Spencer tag. The Cowboys can create about $8.6 million in space by the already agreed upon reworkings of the deals of Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick. By cutting Terence Newman, they could save either $4 million or $6 million. They can create more room by reworking DeMarcus Ware’s contract, too.