On defense, the Cowboys’ franchise player is linebacker DeMarcus Ware. This year, however, the organization’s “franchise player” for CBA purposes is linebacker Anthony Spencer. As Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram explains it, Spencer’s ensuing $8.8 million base salary has resulted in sharp criticism of the man who isn’t DeMarcus Ware.
And for good reason. Since Spencer arrived in 2007, he has 21.5 sacks, During those same five years, Ware has 80.
“I listen to all those radio shows on the way home, and when they’re not dog-cussing me, they’re dog-cussing [Spencer],” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan recently said, per Williams. “The bottom line is: He’s a damn good football player. What we asked him to do, he did a great job with. So if we send him more this year [as a pass-rusher], that will be great. I know everybody just looks at the bottom line on sacks or wins, and I don’t blame them. But as a coach, you appreciate a guy like Anthony Spencer because he does the right thing, and he plays hard; he forces fumbles; he still rushes the passer. . . . I think he’s going to have a great year.”
Spencer realizes that it’s not easy to play with a guy like Ware.
“It’s both a curse and a blessing,” Spencer said regarding the presence of Ware on the other side of the line. “I wouldn’t say it’s a curse [editor's note: you just did], but it has its benefits and its non-benefits being across from him, definitely.”
Spencer has signed the franchise tender, putting him under contract for 2012. The Cowboys have until July 16 to sign Spencer to a long-term deal. If they don’t, it’ll take $10.56 million to keep him around for 2013.