After investing a total of $10.63 million dollars in franchising Anthony Spencer for the second straight season and having the move blow up in their faces thanks to an injury, the Dallas Cowboys are leaning toward keeping the franchise tag in its hip pocket for the 2014 season. According to the team's executive vice president, Stephen Jones, the Cowboys do not see themselves as being in a situation where they feel compelled to take such action to retain the services of any player for next year.
"I don’t think the tag’s going to be in play for us this year. Obviously, we worked it out where we could with Spencer. I just don’t see it where we need it this year." - Stephen Jones
The one player that the Cowboys might have considered using the tag to retain would probably be Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who has likely played his last season in Dallas. The 31-year-old Hatcher is coming off of his best season as a professional and once free agency opens he'll likely be worth more on the open market than what Dallas is going to be willing or able to pay. In 2013, the franchise tag for a defensive tackle was nearly $8.5 million dollars and for the upcoming season that number would be even higher. The final number for 2014 is going to be well beyond what the Cowboys can afford with their ongoing salary cap situation.
Speaking specifically about the franchise tag, Jones gave no signs that the team considers its use on Spencer as being a mistake. It is more of a risk that did not pay off due to circumstances beyond the control of either the player or the team.
"Anthony’s been an unbelievable player for us and it’s very unfortunate what happened to him last year, but very productive. Obviously a guy we think a lot of. We franchised him last year, and then of course, you know, injuries happen in our game. But he’s the type of player you want on your team. I know we’ve got our fingers crossed and I know he does too that his injury comes along in the proper way."
Although he clearly will not be in line for a third straight season under the tag, Jones indicated that the club is still interested in bringing Spencer back if the two sides can work out a mutually agreeable deal. Even that may be a challenge given the fact that the team is, as usual, facing a tight salary cap situation. Depending on how other teams view the nearly 30-year-old Spencer's ability to bounce back from his injury, even he may find himself worth more on the open market than he is in Dallas.
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