Cowboys OLB Anthony Spencer has been given the franchise tag, the team announced Monday. It's only the third time the club has used the franchise tag on a player. The other two to receive the tag were OT Flozell Adams (2002) and S Ken Hamlin (’08).
Spencer racked up six sacks and forced four fumbles in 2011, playing across from DeMarcus Ware. The former first-round pick has been a full-time starter for the past three seasons, and has 196 tackles in that time span.
Spencer is the first outside linebacker to receive the franchise tag this offseason. If he were to sign the tender, he would make approximately $8.84 million in 2012.
The way we see it
Spencer gets a lot of guff because he's not DeMarcus Ware. But Spencer has been a good run defender, has not missed a game as a pro and still provides decent pressure — even if they do not add up in the form of sacks always. There was no natural full-time replacement on the roster (Victor Butler hasn't shown enough yet), so letting Spencer walk would have meant adding someone at the position.
In the end, the Cowboys feel good enough about Spencer to tag him, allow him to play for the one-year tender if needed and work toward a more feasible long-term extension.