Former Pro-Bowler Anthony Spencer re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys this weekend to a team-friendly one year contract. The 30 year old DE out of Purdue was drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Since signing his rookie contract that first year, Spencer has played under a series of one year deals, and 2014 continues that trend.
In both 2012 and 2013 the Cowboys and Anthony Spencer found themselves at an impasse. Spencer saw himself as one of the best OLBs in the league and wanted to be paid like one. The Cowboys saw him as a very good player but not a top echelon pass-rusher. Despite playing opposite DeMarcus Ware (the best pass-rusher in the game) who demanded constant double-teams, Spencer often struggled to put up big sack numbers.
Spencer was seen as an all-around player and not a one dimensional pass-rusher only interested in sack numbers. Many ratings systems support this thought too as PFF ranked him at or near the top of the league year after year. In 2012 alone he scored +26.6 at PFF ranking the highest of those OLBs.
After playing in only one game last season, Anthony Spencer underwent season-ending microfracture surgery on his left knee. A surgery he is still recovering from today and the #1 reason he was available in free agency up until this weekend. Spencer is highly regarded around the league both as a player and a person, but questions about his knee and his ability to transition to a DE impacted his market price substantially.
Much like Henry Melton, Spencer seems willing to gamble on himself in 2014. This weekend Spencer signed another one year deal. But nothing even approaching the size of his past two 1-year deals which earned him over $19M. This time the deal is a modest $1.25M base salary. No signing bonus or anything extra up-front. This is about proving his worth. Proving he can come back and make a difference again.
If Spencer makes the active roster all season, and reaches his incentives, he stands to make as much as $3.5M. This is peanuts compared to what he was making annually but it provides an opportunity to prove himself.
This is clearly beneficial to the Cowboys since they have questions all up and down the D-line. The entire defensive line depth chart is made up rotational players and/or those recovering from major injury. Even if the Cowboys don’t know how Spencer will recover or how he’ll transition to DE, $1.5M for 1 year isn’t a very big commitment to make on a previously successful player like Spencer.
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