One of the Dallas Cowboys' big-need areas as they head into their offseason is the pass rush. They have DeMarcus Ware at one outside linebacker spot, and he may be the best pass-rusher in the entire league. But on the other side is Anthony Spencer who (a) has been a bit of a disappointment in that area and (b) is a free agent.
On ESPNDallas.com, Todd Archer writes that the Cowboys' decision on Spencer is a key to their offseason. He thinks the best move might be to use the franchise or transition designation on Spencer, effectively putting him on a one-year contract and making sure he has incentive to prove himself. But that's an expensive way to go, and Spencer was playing in a similar situation this year in the final year of his deal.
Spencer has had five seasons to prove he can be a worthy pass-rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware. At times he did. Too many other times, he didn't.
The free-agent market doesn't offer much hope for serious improvement, so the options appear to be sign Spencer to a long-term deal at a sensible price, put one of the tags on him or draft an outside linebacker with the No. 14 pick with Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw being everybody’s guy right now after the Tide's win against LSU.
Me, I'd go that last way. Lots of mock drafts have the Cowboys picking Stanford guard David DeCastro at No. 14, but they have young guards they like and can either continue to develop them or pick the draft's second-best or third-best guard in a later round. I think you want an impact guy if you're picking in the middle of the first round, and if I were in charge of the Cowboys' draft I'd be thinking pass-rusher. I feel like Todd does on Spencer -- that we've seen what we're going to see of him and it's time to look elsewhere.
I also think they need to address the defensive end spots and bring in guys who can help clear the way for their outside pass rush. But that's something that can be done in free agency. I'd be willing to risk letting Spencer go and taking a chance that he won't sign somewhere else to come back and terrorize me. Time for some new blood in the Cowboys' pass rush.