Cowboys hope to avoid franchise tag with Anthony Spencer

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys want to re-sign Anthony Spencer, but want to do so without using the franchise tag on Spencer for the second straight season.

Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer is coming off a career season and, while Dallas would like to retain him, they hope to do so without using the franchise tag, according to a report from Mike Fisher of Fox Sports Southwest.

For more on Spencer and the Cowboys, visit Blogging the Boys

Dallas used the franchise tag on Spencer last season and doing so again this season would cost the Cowboys $10.6 million. That is a high price to pay for a team who is an estimated $20 million over the salary cap. The Cowboys will have to make some moves to free up the necessary cap space to retain Spencer, but Dallas vice president Stephen Jones said the team does want to keep Spencer.

To further complicate matters, the Cowboys are in the midst of switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme. Spencer racked up 95 total tackles and a career-high 11.0 sacks as a rush outside linebacker last season. Spencer, along with former linebacker DeMarcus Ware, would move to defensive end in the 4-3.

The Cowboys and Spencer's agent have begun contract discussions and will meet for more negotiations during the NFL Scouting Combine, according to ESPN Dallas. If Dallas changed course and used the franchise tag on Spencer, the $10.6 million would make him the ninth highest-paid defensive end in the league, according to Spotrac.

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