Mike Fisher broke the news at CBS/DFW that the Dallas Cowboys have broken off talks to get Anthony Spencer signed to a long term deal. There was a pretty significant difference in the figures each side wanted.
The parties hit what sources called a "downturn'' in talks in early July [sic], the problem being the club believes recent NFL deals have shoved the market value of comparable players down to the $5-million-a-year range. Meanwhile, the Spencer camp wanted the recent five-year, $66-million extension given to Packers linebacker Clay Matthews to be part of the conversation. Or, at least, the $8-million-a-year deal Cleveland gave pass-rushing linebacker Paul Kruger to lure him from Baltimore.
All indications are that this was just a business deal that could not get done and that there are no issues between Spencer and the team. After all, Spencer still gets $10.6 million to play this year, and he has every reason to put as good a performance on the field as he can with free agency now inevitable in 2014.
Is this a smart move by the Cowboys? Some think so, including at least one person who is not hesitant to criticize them when he thinks they are not being smart.
Cowboys smart to end talks w/ Anthony Spencer. Don't pay big $ to vet coming off career year and changing positons. http://t.co/7K3EUiodkF— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 25, 2013
While there are counter arguments to be made about letting this go to free agency and the cost of one year, I have to admit, I think MacMahon has a point (That is almost as weird a feeling as finding out Bleacher Report had linked to my last post). Let him play out the year, and then see what the market says next year. It is possible, as MacMahon also mentioned in a reply to KD's question about what to do if Spencer has a strong year, that Tyrone Crawford may emerge this year and make paying Spencer next year unnecessary. With an expected strong draft class for 4-3 defensive ends (as documented by rabblerousr), this might be a very wise move from a financial standpoint. And it is a bit of a departure from the way Dallas has handled its veteran stars in the past.
It may be just a unique case, but this also might signal a real shift from handing out big contracts to aging players. With a lot of young talent and a display of faith in them by the new defensive coaching firm of Kiffin and Marinelli, Dallas has left itself with options next year. It can let Spencer walk if his pricetag is too high and bank on finding a suitable player in the draft to fill in behind him (or whoever becomes the starter if it is one of the current players on the roster). And if the market remains down, the team may be able to sign him to a more reasonable deal than he is holding out for now.
This may have been forced by the expected salary cap issues in 2014, when the Cowboys are expected to again need to go through some restructuring and other moves. According to Overthecap.com, Dallas already has $141,548,121 in obligations for that year. Stephen Jones and his staff might have had that in the back of their minds when they declined to meet the demands of Spencer and his agent. But hopefully, it also reflects some long term planning to get away from the constant juggling of dollars each year just to get under the NFL's limit.
This looks like a situation where there wasn't really a loser, just not a deal that everyone could agree to. The team should get a good year out of Spencer, and then be able to make their decision on what to do next based on more information and less uncertainty than now. It was, perhaps, the safe and smart course to take. What do you think?
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