In his latest mailbag, ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins looks at whether the Cowboys should try to re-sign linebacker Anthony Spencer, who's slated to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13.
The Dallas Cowboys are faced with an interesting offseason regarding outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. On March 13, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Spencer will enter the free-agent market as an outside linebacker coming off a season with six sacks. He started fast, with three sacks in the first three weeks of the season, but he finished 2011 with no sacks the last four weeks.
It's not so much the sacks that are important, but the pressures. Out of an estimated 939 defensive snaps this past season, Spencer hit the quarterback nine times and recorded 39 pressures. In comparison, DeMarcus Ware had eight hits and 44 pressures. Ware finished second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks. Jay Ratliff, the talented nose tackle, seemed to wear down as the season progressed because of the constant double-teams he faced. Yet Ratliff finished with 21 pressures and six hits on the quarterback.
Spencer was asked to drop back in coverage at times, but you would have liked to see more from him. The Cowboys might not give Spencer the long-term deal he seeks, and if they franchise him, it will cost the team $8.8 million.
The draft is filled with defensive ends who can convert to outside linebacker, and might possess the speed and power to help Ware and Ratliff in the pass rush.
Spencer is a valued member of the Cowboys, but his impact seems minimized by the play of Ware and Ratliff. The team might be forced to let him sign with another team for somebody who will be cheaper financially.
Is it worth it?
The Cowboys have to find out starting March 13.
See what else is in Calvin's mailbag here.