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NFL Free Agency 2012: Ahmad Brooks Extension May Force Cowboys To Use Franchise Tag On Anthony Spencer

On Tuesday, it was announced that the San Francisco 49ers extended outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a deal that will pay him an average of $7 million a year over the next six seasons.

To the untrained eye, that has absolutely nothing to do with the Dallas Cowboys, specifically with Anthony Spencer, but in reality, that could force the Cowboys to use the franchise tag on Spencer.

Spencer, who is without question the best outside linebacker in this year's free agent class (that is if you call Mario Williams a defensive end), and the Cowboys may not be able to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, but the cost of a one-year franchise tag is $8.8 million is also a little pricey for a pass-rushing outside linebacker who has never managed to get more than six sacks in his five seasons.

Of course, that is until now.

ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer believes that the Cowboys will definitely use the franchise tag on Spencer now that he will likely use the Brooks deal as a measuring stick for what he feel he deserves.

Brooks has started 16 games in a season just once in his career. Spencer has done it in two of the last three seasons. He started 15 of 16 games in 2011.

Using the same press box stats for fairness to compare the players, Spencer has 266 tackles, 21.5 sacks, one interception, 10 pass deflections and 10 forced fumbles in 53 starts. Brooks has 139 tackles, 20 sacks, one interception, nine pass deflections and seven forced fumbles in 24 starts.

If Spencer wants the kind of deal that Brooks got, and there's no reason to expect that he wouldn't, the only way to keep him is likely to use the franchise tag on him.

If they don't, Spencer is likely heading for another team via free agency.

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