- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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I never feel comfortable predicting with any certainty what the Dallas Cowboys are going to do, but I consider it unlikely that they designate Anthony Spencer as their franchise player before today's 4 p.m. ET deadline. Franchising Spencer would cost the Cowboys $10.6 million this year, since it'd be the second year in a row in which he played under the franchise player designation, and they'd have to clear about $6 million more in cap room in the next six hours just to do it. And if they did it (say, by finalizing a Tony Romo contract extension), they really wouldn't be able to do much else once free agency started next Tuesday. So I do not expect the Cowboys to franchise Spencer or anyone else by the deadline.
In fact, I don't expect any team in the NFC East to use the franchise tag this year. To wit:
New York Giants: They could use it on safety Kenny Phillips ($6.916 million) or tight end Martellus Bennett ($6.066 million), but I doubt they'll do it for either. They simply don't value the tight end position enough to pay Bennett that much money this season. They like him and could bring him back on a deal that features a lower 2013 base salary, but they don't have the cap room or the inclination to lock him in for a year at the franchise number. As for Phillips, you know I think they should keep him. And they might, but again, on a longer deal at their price. I think they'll let the franchise deadline go by and continue to try and use Phillips' knee problems and Stevie Brown's high 2012 interception total as leverage against Phillips in their negotiations -- and let him walk if he's determined to get more than they want to give him.
Philadelphia Eagles: No way they're using a $10.854 million franchise tag on cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Even if they want him back, they'll be able to get him for less. And he's not a guy they can't afford to lose. The Eagles have the cap room to do whatever they want, but they don't have many free agents, and the ones they do have aren't so essential as to merit a franchise designation.
Washington Redskins: I think they'd like to tag tight end Fred Davis but can't afford it because of their cap problems. Linebacker/special teams ace Lorenzo Alexander ($9.619 million), guard Kory Lichtensteiger ($9.828 million) and cornerback Cedric Griffin are all guys they'd like to have back, but not at those prices.
I never feel comfortable predicting with any certainty what the Dallas Cowboys are going to do, but I consider it unlikely that they designate Anthony Spencer as their franchise player before today's 4 p.