Cowboys cover bases with Spencer signing

IRVING, Texas -- By signing Anthony Spencer to a one-year deal the Dallas Cowboys have continued to add pieces to their defensive line, but none of the moves will take them out of selecting an end or tackle in the upcoming draft.

Spencer is the fourth defensive lineman the Cowboys have signed this offseason, joining Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain.

According to a source, Spencer’s one-year deal contains no signing bonus but can be worth up to $3.5 million. He has a base salary of $1.25 million and up to $750,000 in roster bonus money based on him being on the active roster in each game. Spencer has additional incentives totaling 1.5 million in sacks and playing time.

Melton essentially signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. Mincey will earn $1.5 million this season. McClain will earn $1.05 million.

The Cowboys have not made a huge financial commitment that would take them out of selecting an Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr or Kony Ealy with the 16th pick in the first round.

What they have done has strengthened their position to stick to the best player available when it comes to their turn to pick. If it’s Donald or Barr or Ealy or safety Jimmie Ward or offensive lineman Zack Martin or wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., then they can make the move and feel good about the depth they have added to Rod Marinelli’s defensive line.

The Cowboys lack a true right defensive end in the mold of a DeMarcus Ware, who was cut before free agency began and signed with the Denver Broncos, but they have numbers they can throw at the position in Spencer, George Selvie, who had seven sacks last year, Mincey and Tyrone Crawford, who missed last season with a torn Achilles.

If a right defensive end, like Barr, is not available, then Demarcus Lawrence could be an option in the second round.

If healthy, Spencer will be the Cowboys’ best defensive lineman, but it is a big "if." The hope is that he will be ready to go for training camp, but returning from microfracture surgery is tricky. Patience is the most important aspect of the recovery. Spencer had 11 sacks in his last full season and made the Pro Bowl while the Cowboys were operating a 3-4 scheme. He is an underrated run defender as well.

He went into free agency in bad circumstances with the injury, but has a chance to earn a bigger deal next year with a good season.

The Cowboys are more than happy to give him that chance.