Interesting (and very long) article from Bob Sturm about the Anthony Spencer debate. I lean more toward letting him go, but he makes a good point about having to fill a hole you just created. And his conclusion is to franchise him as others have said Some highlights: =========== The point of this exercise is to readily admit that you can do better than Anthony Spencer by acquiring a true #1 Linebacker opposite DeMarcus Ware. Of course, the costs will be substantial and we must remember that this is not fantasy football. In fantasy football, you acquire "pass rush specialists" at every spot an think you will get 100 sacks. But, in real football, if you don't have a player setting the edge and shutting down strong side rushing plays, then you get beat. Spencer, of all outside linebackers in the 3-4 in the last two seasons has more tackles than anyone. 53 in 2010 (ranked 2nd behind James Harrison) and 53 in 2011 (ranked 2nd behind Calvin Pace). Is Pace available? No. Is Harrison available? No. Is Kerrigan? No. Is Orakpo? No. And yet, I have people telling me that Victor Butler, Alex Albright, or "anyone" can do what Spencer has done? --- Spencer's sacks, pressures, QB hits, and tackles combine to show you a much more balanced view of his performance and while it is easy for a reader or fan to simply marginalize everything he does for this team, it is imperative for the brains in the Cowboys war-room to either upgrade him or remember what he brings to the table and keep him in the stable. Now, I do not say all of this to say that he has been a great pick, or a suitable stud, or even someone who is not replaceable. But as I look at the draft and free agency, I do not see someone who is clearly better than him at the all-around game at his position. The only 3-4 outside linebackers that are on the market are Ahmad Brooks (a player that San Francisco is happy to replace), Eric Walden (discarded by Green Bay), and Clark Haggans (35 years old). Further, if I use pick #14 on another outside linebacker, then I cannot use that pick on a defensive lineman, defensive back, or offensive lineman - where I clearly still have holes. So, do I take Courtney Upshaw or Melvin Ingram at #14 to fill a hole I just made? I don't think you make any progress letting a solid linebacker go if there is another alternative. ----- I slap the franchise tag on him. The tag this year is $8.8 million and keeps him in a Cowboys uniform for another season so the franchise can fill their other holes and find his replacement. Therefore, I am not married to him, and yet I do not open up another major hole. If he performs well in 2012, we talk extension. If I think he is holding me back, we move along. But, I cannot fix this defense by subtracting a reasonable piece while adding another. That is called running in place while the clock continues to tick on the primes of Ware, Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and Miles Austin.