There are many facets to the discussion about the Dallas Cowboys' decision to make Anthony Spencer their $10.6 million franchise player. But at the end of a long day Monday in which I answered a lot of questions on this, it boiled down to a fairly simple assessment. I think it's too much money to pay this particular player.
Reading this from Vince Verhei of Football Outsiders reinforced that belief. Vince is writing about the best and worst uses of the franchise tag this year and he cites Spencer as the latter. He doesn't think it's a terrible decision, but his central point is that Spencer's 2012 might have been a little bit overrated:
But there's some evidence suggesting that his sack total was a fluke. According to Football Outsiders' game charters, one of Spencer's sacks came when he wasn't touched, two were a result of overall pressure where Spencer was just one of many Cowboys to land on top of a quarterback, and three were coverage sacks, the credit for which should go to the Dallas secondary, not Spencer. Take those plays away and you're left with the same half-dozen or so sacks Spencer has been averaging for most of his career.
Vince goes to on examine other of Spencer's stats, such as pressures and QB hits, and finds that they dropped in 2012 from prior years. And he raises the issue of whether or not it's safe to assume Spencer will make a smooth conversion from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end in the Cowboys' new defensive alignment. I don't think that last thing is going to be a problem, but the statistical issues are food for thought, no? Especially if the Cowboys are talking to Spencer about a long-term deal.