We ran a poll here on BTB yesterday, asking BTB-members what the Cowboys should do now that they've tagged Anthony Spencer. Of the almost 800 votes cast, 44% were in favor of tagging and trading Anthony Spencer to a team that's willing to offer something in return. Turns out, that may not just have been wishful thinking by a few hundred Cowboys fans.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported late yesterday on "NFL Total Access" that the Cowboys are open to trading Spencer and his $10.6 million salary if a suitable trading partner emerges.
As I said on TA: #Cowboys would be happy if Anthony Spencer was with them in '13. BUT they are open to trading him in thin pass-rush market— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2013
Rapoport cited an unnamed team source in his Total Access report, but that doesn't necessarily mean the report is accurate. Keep in mind that we're about to enter "Liar's Month", where misinformation is the name of the game, and sources have been known to purposely hand out false information. Happens every year. In fact, among the chief sources of late-breaking free agency and draft information are rumors spread by NFL general managers - who are lying - and agents, who are lying even more.
Still, assuming the report is accurate, a tag & trade is an interesting option. Spencer's 2012 season remains underrated by many Cowboys fans who still think of Spencer as "Almost Anthony", but other teams have taken notice of Spencer's stellar performance over only 14 (!) games last season. Here's a stat snippet from STATS LLC as quoted by Todd Archer:
While DeMarcus Ware gets all the attention, Anthony Spencer last season quietly became just the fourth linebacker to amass 90 tackles, 10 sacks and 5 stuffs
The only other linebackers to achieve this feat in the history of the NFL: James Harrison (PIT) in 2010, Lavarr Arrington (WAS) in 2002 and Jamir Miller (CLE) in 2001.
The question is, how much would Spencer be worth in a trade, and what's an offer the Cowboys would find acceptable? After all, they can always keep their former first-round draft pick for an extra season, and even extend him if they want to.
Spencer’s value may not be all that high for 4-3 teams, but it could be very high for 3-4 teams, where an outside linebacker is one of the most premium positions on the roster and notoriously hard to find. Here's a short rundown of trades in which defensive linemen were traded for picks over the last few years, and which may serve as a reference point as we discuss Spencer's potential value:
- Last year, the Raiders traded a 5th-round pick for Seahawks draft bust Aaron Curry. Surely, Spencer is worth more than that.
- In 2008, Jaguars DT Marcus Stroud was traded to the Bills for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2008 NFL Draft. At the time, former 1st-round pick Stroud was 30 and had been to his last Pro Bowl three years earlier. Could Spencer be worth more than that?
- In 2006 the Colts traded a low 2007 2nd-round pick (#64) for Tampa DT Anthony McFarland. In seven seasons with the Bucs, the then 29-year old McFarland had recorded 20 sacks. Would a team invest more for Anthony Spencer?
- In 2009, the Bears traded a high 2010 2nd-round pick (#42) to Tampa Bay for defensive end Gaines Adams. Adams, the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft, never lived up to his potential in Tampa, and was considered a disappointment after posting 12.5 sacks in his two years in Tampa. Is Spencer worth as much today as 25-year old Adams was at the time?
- In 2010, the Raiders traded their 2011 1st-round pick (#17) to the Patriots for DT Richard Seymour. Seymour was 31 at the time and his last Pro-Bowl nod had been four years earlier. Is Spencer worth as much as Seymour was?
What do you think Spencer could be worth? And more importantly, at what price would you be willing to let him go?