During free agency there are always a handful of names that make the rounds in every NFL fanbase. This year, some of those names are Mario Williams, Carl Nicks, Cortland Finnegan and Calais Campbell, and perhaps a quarterback or two. Those are the guys that every fanbase is talking and dreaming about.
Yet those top tier free agents will only be able to sign with one team, and other teams will still need to fill gaps in their roster with other free agents - second tier free agents whose names may not carry quite that allure.
One of those free agents this year is the Cowboys own Anthony Spencer.
To say that fan opinion on Anthony Spencer is divided may qualify as the understatement of the year. The recent discussion about potentially franchising Spencer once again highlighted how much opinions about Anthony Spencer differ. Some argued that franchising Spencer is a good idea, others argued that it's high time he left, many more were caught somewhere in between these extreme positions.
In free agency, the grass is almost always greener on the other side, so today we're going to take a look at what fans of other teams think about Anthony Spencer.
The following quotes are taken from the frontpages of various SBNation team sites.
Looking at Pro Football Focus' numbers on Spencer's sacks, hits, and pressures suggests he is an extremely productive pass rusher. Since he became a starter in 2009, he disrupted the quarterback on 11.7% of plays he was a pass rusher. That is really good. By comparison, Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants is doing so at a 9.5% clip in this monster year he is having.
Does this make Spencer an elite pass rusher? Probably not. There is certainly a mitigating factor. Playing across from Ware probably helps him a lot. Other teams are usually sending every extra blocker they have at Ware and away from Spencer. Spencer also has lined up against right tackles a lot, who tend to be less nimble or productive as pass protectors. He also has a really good pass rushing nose tackle in Jay Ratliff drawing blockers up the middle. Spencer is a guy who gets a lot of favorable matchups.
I think Spencer is a very well rounded linebacker. He is probably a better pass rusher than his sack stats would suggest and not quite as good as the deeper numbers would indicate. He is still likely better at getting to the quarterback than anybody the Jets have.
The article closes with a simple poll, asking Jets fans; "Should the Jets have interest in Anthony Spencer to start at outside linebacker?"
The surprising result: 67% of 733 users voted "YES".
Buffalo can certainly look to upgrade at Sam, though it's not the priority that the Jack position is. In free agency, Baltimore's Jarret Johnson is an ideal Sam in a hybrid defense. Johnson is essentially a more talented version of Kelsay. Dallas' Anthony Spencer is probably the most talented player available capable of manning the Sam linebacker position. San Francisco's Ahmad Brooks and Cincinnati's Manny Lawson would also be upgrades over Kelsay. Chris Gocong, Matt Roth and Rob Ninkovich are also available, though they aren't really upgrades over Kelsay.
The Chargers are in dire need of pass rushers and Bolts From The Blue recently ran this article: "San Diego Chargers: Shopping for Free Agent Pass Rushers"
[Anthony Spencer is ] the "bargain" option of the class. He's a former 1st round pick and he played for a number of years in Wade Phillips' defense with the Cowboys. He's 28 years old, so he should have a number of good years left in him. His career high in sacks is 6, which he's done twice and his career high in forced fumbles came last year. His higher tackle totals would tell you that he's been to be more of a complete defender than some of the other players here.
He's good in pursuit, he's a good tackler, a little limited in coverage and he's made progress in his pass rushing game. He's most likely look for a team where he can continue to play the position he's familiar with and because the Chargers would fit that bill they wouldn't have to sacrifice too much cap space to get him.
Anthony Spencer(OLB): A solid, unspectacular player. Another Cowboy OLB is more well known for rushing the passer, Spencer has been solid at stuffing the run. He's merely average at pass rushing, but he's still a solid OLB compliment [sic]. Just don't ask him to be your top pass rusher.
Anthony Spencer- Though he hasn't been a great pass rusher in his career, he is a very effective run stuffer from the 3-4 SLB spot.
This following three quotes are taken from the Fanpost sections
"Peyton, Peyton, Peyton!" - The Phinsider (Dolphins)
I know a lot of people will hate the idea of more Cowboy retread and I don’t blame you, but Spencer was the Cowboys 1st round pick in 2007 under Parcell. Spencer was originally selected as a defensive end out of college with the hopes of making him an OLB in Parcell’s 3-4 defense. The experiment did not succeed in Dallas and I think the reason is Spencer is not an 3-4 OLB he in fact his better suited to play DE in 4-3 defense (just like Wake would benefit by the same switch). To further back up my claim I have dug up some old scouting reports on Spencer, take a look.
Anthony Spencer - Cowboys - He puts up decent number for DE/OLB, 6 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. He had a couple of really poor games in 2011, but overall is a good/experienced option that may not come cheap, but less that top two. In 2010, Spencer had 5 sacks and 2 FF, 2009 had 6 sacks and 2 FF... consistent that way.
Never liked the idea of getting a former Cowboy, but Spencer is undoubtedly is a good OLB who won't have to make any transition into our scheme. Spencer has 6.0, 5.0, and 6.0 sacks in the last 3 seasons, and has 8 forced fumbles over that span. He'll need a decent deal, but won't cost a fortune: 3 years, 13 mil, 4.3 mil/yr.
One thing is sure: If the Cowboys don't re-sign Spencer in whatever shape or form, he'll sign with another team. And the chances are he could be greeted with more enthusiasm by his new fans than he would be if he re-signs in Dallas. Or will he?