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2012 Free Agency: Cowboys May Use Franchise Tag On Anthony Spencer

According to the Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill Jr., the Dallas Cowboys could use the franchise tag on outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent on March 13, even though he hasn't been quite the force they expected him to be when they selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft.

The franchise tag would give Spencer a one-year deal worth $8.8 million.

Spencer is coming off a six-sack season, but the Cowboys want more production from the pass rusher playing opposite of perennial Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware, who racked up 19.5 sacks in the 2011 season.

However, Spencer did have the team's fourth most tackles, with 74, on the team and was good against the run. He also had the second most quarterback pressures on the team with 31 behind Ware's 40. He also forced four fumbles and was tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with eight:

The main reason that the Cowboys may use the tag on Spencer, though, is because of a lack of potential replacements.But the bottom line with a potential franchise decision on Spencer is finding a potential replacement for him.

There are few options on the free-agent market _ unless you consider Houston's Mario Williams. He is likely the top free agent the market and will command a hefty price. He would be a huge financial risk for Cowboys considering his limited experience in the 3-4 _ especially at strongside outside linebacker which is Spencer's spot.

Another option is Indianapolis defensive end Robert Mathis, who could potentially make the move to outside linebacker in a 3-4. But again he has never played the position and he is 31 years old compared to Spencer who just turned 28.

The Cowboys need to address the offensive line and the secondary in the upcoming draft and if they don't re-sign Spencer and are unable to find his replacement in free agency, they would put themselves in a position where they would need to fill too many holes in the draft.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.