By Matthew Postins
When I broke down the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line situation last month I wrote the following:
“The Cowboys would probably jump at the opportunity to get (Anthony Spencer) back on a one-year deal that doesn’t break the bank and playing the waiting game is appropriate.”
The Cowboys won the waiting game on Saturday as Spencer’s agent, Jordan Woy, went to Twitter to announce his client’s one-year deal with the Cowboys.
Terms were not disclosed, but Spencer likely received a far cry from the $10 million he received each of the last two seasons. So the Cowboys won on this deal financially, even though it’s not clear if Spencer will be ready for training camp.
The Cowboys handled this one right. Not only did they not jump at the chance to sign Spencer in a panic after releasing DeMarcus Ware, they allowed Spencer to continue to use their facilities while he rehabbed his knee injury. That’s a solid PR move on the team’s part.
So now that Spencer is signed as part of the roster for 2014, what will his impact be?
If he’s healthy? That’s the big question. Not being 100 percent for training camp isn’t the end of the world. Not being 100 percent for the start of the regular season? Well that’s another story. But let’s envision a scenario in which Spencer is healthy to start the season.
Spencer would give the Cowboys, at this moment, a fifth defensive end. The Cowboys have tackle Henry Melton listed as an end for some reason, but we all know he’s going to play inside. Undoubtedly, a healthy Spencer would be a starter at one defensive end position. The opposite starter would likely be George Selvie. I could see the Cowboys plugging Spencer at Ware’s old position and keeping Selvie on the left side and making it work.
What a healthy Spencer does is make the depth on this team actual depth instead of that depth being pressed into a starting role. Tyrone Crawford, Jeremy Mincey and Kyle Wilber can then vie for playing time, as opposed to starting roles, that they may not be suited for or ready to tackle. Regaining Spencer undoubtedly makes the overall defensive line situation a little better.
If he’s not healthy? Well, then the Cowboys are back to assigning either Jeremy Mincey or Tyrone Crawford a starting role in 2014, a solution that would probably require the Cowboys to continue to explore depth possibilities during the offseason, including training camp.
Impact on the draft? Spencer’s signing should have little to no impact on draft strategy. Why? Spencer is 30 years old and coming off microfracture knee surgery. It’s unlikely the Cowboys will want to sign Spencer to a long-term deal. Crawford and Wilber will enter the final year of his rookie contracts in 2015. Selvie will be a free agent. The Cowboys don’t have much at defensive end that is locked in for 2015, so it makes sense for them to draft at least one end in 2014. The Cowboys need to add talent to the rotation, not believe they’re set just because they have Spencer back.