Anthony Spencer signs franchise tender

I have been swamped today with the ESPN blogger mock draft, but since we've been talking about Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer a lot lately, it's worth a blog post noting that he's signed his franchise tender and therefore agreed to play for $8.8 million in 2012 absent the long-term deal he continues to hope the Cowboys give him.

This is not a surprise, and I believe it would be a surprise if the Cowboys did extend Spencer at this time. My belief is that they want to see him play this year and see whether he shows the improvement they're seeking in the pass rush before committing to him long-term.

To answer one question I've received a few times since this news broke, however: No, I don't think this changes the Cowboys' plans for the first round of the draft. I think they're going to go with the best defensive player available at that No. 14 spot, and that's what I think they should do. Someone asked me on Twitter if the Spencer news makes it more likely that the Cowboys would take a pass-rusher, such as Courtney Upshaw, with that pick. If anything, I'd say it makes it less likely, since the only way it looked as though they were going to do that was if they planned to rescind Spencer's franchise tender and cut him. That option is off the table now, and it looks as though (barring some surprise trade), Spencer is on the team in 2012 in his outside linebacker spot opposite DeMarcus Ware.