Will the savings be enough to keep Anthony Spencer?

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
1:30
PM ET
The Cowboys have begun the process of getting under the proposed $121 million salary cap by restructuring contracts, and they could quite possibly cut linebacker Dan Connor.

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The moves are designed to get restricted free agents and draft picks signed and of course to do something in free agency, which starts March 12.

But the one major move the Cowboys could make regarding their free agents is re-signing defensive end Anthony Spencer.

Will the Cowboys have enough money to bring Spencer back in 2013?

It would cost the Cowboys $10.8 million to franchise Spencer, and they have until March 4 to make a decision. If they sign Spencer to a five-year deal, the price tag would likely be around an average of $8-10 million.

Is Spencer worth it?

The Cowboys have to lower quarterback Tony Romo's cap number. If they don't, they won't have much room to make moves in free agency. If they are able to lower Romo's team-high $16.8 million cap number, they have to pay the quarterback big money -- some have said possibly in the $17-18 million range per season.

In the last 24 hours, the Cowboys saved $8.3 million by restructuring the deals of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Nate Livings. That figure will move to more than $18 million when the Cowboys enact a clause in Brandon Carr's contract. Carr's $14.3 million base salary in 2013 is being converted to a base salary of $715,000 with the difference of $13.5 million being moved to a signing bonus to lower his cap figure, which currently sits at $16.3 million. That move will save the Cowboys $10.8 million. More money will come off the books depending on what happens with Jay Ratliff, Romo and Connor.

Then there's the Doug Free situation. If he's a post-June 1 cut, the Cowboys save $7 million. But they can't get that savings until June, when the best of the free agents are off the market.

When the Cowboys do get under the salary cap, the savings will be significant. What they do with the savings is uncertain, especially with Jerry Jones saying last week at the scouting combine that the financial figure Spencer wants and what the Cowboys are willing to give don't match right now.

Yes, the Cowboys will have some money to spend, but it might not be on Spencer.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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