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Spencer tag could spark unprecedented battle


At a time when more and more tight ends are claiming that they have been receivers for purposes of the franchise tag, Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer could be raising a similar argument.

Spencer, if he was tagged as a linebacker in the team’s 3-4 defense, could claim that he’s actually a defensive end in the team’s new 4-3 attack.  Because he will be.

Last year, Spencer made $8.8 million under the linebacker tag.  He’s entitled to a 20-percent raise, which moves his compensation to $10.56 million.

But the base franchise tender for defensive ends is $11.175 million.  So, in theory, Spencer should get the higher amount, since that’s the position he’ll be playing in 2013.

Sure, we’re only talking about $615,000 on an eight-figure salary.  But if Spencer is entitled to it, he should get it.

Article 10, Section 2 of the CBA ties the designation to the position the player played in the prior year.  So Spencer’s current position may not matter, under the strict language of the labor deal.

Agent Jordan Woy said on Twitter he’ll work on a long-term deal.  And regardless of whether Spencer is paid as a defensive end or as a linebacker in 2013, he’ll be entitled in 2014 to quarterback franchise money.

Which gives him a little extra leverage.

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27 Responses to “Spencer tag could spark unprecedented battle”
  1. redfield11 says: Mar 4, 2013 2:23 PM

    If it’s word for word “position played in prior year” then no, there is not an argument and I don’t know why you’re acting like it should be if there is a blatant rejection to the claim he is due new position money?

  2. zaggs says: Mar 4, 2013 2:25 PM

    It wont spark a battle. Linebacker pay for the franchise tag, defensive end pay for the contract going forward.

  3. mburkett1980 says: Mar 4, 2013 2:25 PM

    The fact that it is only a $500k difference combined with the fact that the CBA clearly addresses this makes this a non-story.

  4. zenrooster says: Mar 4, 2013 2:31 PM

    Exactly what redfield11 said. The rule said previous year. He is getting paid according to previous year.

    What is unclear about this?

  5. whatnojets says: Mar 4, 2013 2:35 PM

    If owners were allowed to be traded or become free agents, would any team sign “Jerry Jones” or “Woody Johnson”??

  6. ahostiletakeover says: Mar 4, 2013 2:42 PM

    Terrell Suggs did a very similar thing when he got tagged after ’08 before signing his new deal. Spencer has every right to challenge the positional designation to get a little extra, especially with this being his second consecutive year getting it. The way Suggs got around it if I remember right was he claimed he had played the majority of his snaps with his hand in the dirt as opposed to standing up as a linebacker, and it turns out he was right. If Spencer, can do the same, then go get it son!

  7. vmannj says: Mar 4, 2013 2:45 PM

    The argument will be whether he played more snaps as a DE (in nickle situations) or as an OLB in the base 3-4 defense. I believe Suggs had a similar situation in BAL a few years back. I don’t see how this is an “unpresedented” situation.

  8. mataug says: Mar 4, 2013 2:45 PM

    Couldn’t the Cowboys use the argument that he will play OLB like Von Miller does in Denver’s 4-3 defense ?

  9. NCAA Injustice says: Mar 4, 2013 2:48 PM

    So this post raises the possibility of an “unprecedented fight” (without any indication that such a fight is contemplated by Spencer) but then provides CBA language which is pretty unambiguous as to how to determine his designation?

  10. isphet71 says: Mar 4, 2013 3:00 PM

    If I were an NFL GM I would have my 2013 QB also be the punter for 2013. That way, I could just franchise tag my QB as a punter for 2 years!

    Could the Cowboys use their Franchise Tag on Tony Romo as a FG holder?

    None of these things will happen, of course. It’s kind of a silly topic in regards to where the “what-ifs” could go. Lots of potential for even further abuse of the franchise tag.

  11. buckeye1nation says: Mar 4, 2013 3:03 PM

    “So Spencer’s current position may not matter..”

    Should read “So Spencer’s current position WILL not matter..”

  12. dccowboy says: Mar 4, 2013 3:08 PM

    Sorry, but I don’t think that ‘a position he probably will be playing’ is going to override the position he played last season. Who knows, the Cowboys may try him at Sam linebacker.

  13. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Mar 4, 2013 3:08 PM

    It’s still possible that Dallas could trade Spencer. He had a heck of a year last season but I just don’t look for another year like that from him. But Jerry falls for it every time.

    Think Doug Free…

  14. jagsfan1 says: Mar 4, 2013 3:11 PM

    Either way – grossly overpaid

  15. randallflagg52 says: Mar 4, 2013 3:12 PM

    Same thing happened with Terrell Suggs back in 08 (I believe it was 08). Ozzie Newsome claimed Suggs was a OLB, and Suggs and his agent claimed that because he had his hand in the dirt for the majority of snaps as opposed to being a standing up player and was a DE. Suggs got the DE tag and made more money.

    Don’t watch enough cowboy games to say what Spencer is, but he and his agent have a prior ruling to back up their claim.

  16. blamatina says: Mar 4, 2013 3:16 PM

    Does this mean you can franchise tag Tim Tebow as a Punt Protector? What would that cost?

  17. godzilla111111 says: Mar 4, 2013 3:17 PM

    Article 10, Section 2 of the CBA ties the designation to the position the player played in the prior year.

  18. justintuckrule says: Mar 4, 2013 3:35 PM

    The solution to do away with this whole dumb issue is that the agent should negotiate the player’s position in his expiring contract.

    In such circumstance, the player could be willing to take less in a contract in exchange for the team designating him at a higher franchise value with the hope that when the day comes for his next contract, the team will have to pay a higher franchise tender to keep him.

    Likewise, the team could pay MORE early in exchange for the player taking a lesser position designation.

    Basically…it’s just a term. If Spencer was willing to take a ton less in order to be designated as a “QB” because he had faith in his abilities to see the end of his contract, then what’s the problem? On the other hand, if Spencer didn’t have faith, took a ton more early on and agreed to be a punter…then Dallas would have one cheap DE this year wouldn’t they?

  19. cosmoman11 says: Mar 4, 2013 3:40 PM

    Wouldn’t this have been a more appropriate headline for your earlier article about the rumour that the Rams may try to franchise Amedola as a tight end. I guess you didn’t think of it then so you are using it now.

  20. justintuckrule says: Mar 4, 2013 3:44 PM

    Continuing my earlier solution…..

    Instead of franchise tags being based off position, they should be based upon a level system…like level 1-10.

    10 – QBs
    9 – DEs
    all the way down to punter.

    When an agent negotiates a contract, to avoid this position issue arising in the future when the player becomes a FA, the agent should negotiate the player’s “level” in the expiring contract. The “level” is just another contract term not unlike an escalator. Thus, if Spencer’s contract made him a “level 9” player, he’d receive the tag value based on the contracts of level 9 players. To take it a step further, teams can negotiate level escalators based upon play. Heck, they can even drop the player a level if he doesn’t meet a benchmark.

    My wonderful system would also do away with the inequity of tagging good punters at cheap rates to avoid them hitting the market. A good punter (like a Shane Lechler) can negotiate a higher level in his next contract to avoid a tag that pays him only a small amount more than a crummy punter.

    You’re welcome NFL.

  21. decimusprime says: Mar 4, 2013 4:11 PM


    When Suggs did this the new CBA wasn’t done yet. Do we know if that specific wording was even in place when that happened? If it was not, and I can’t imagine it was due to how blatant the wording is, he is out of luck. New CBA new rules.

  22. samarirolleout says: Mar 4, 2013 4:26 PM

    Just to clarify something about Suggs, he did not get tagged as a DE as some are saying. I forget the exact specifics but basically Ozzie Newsome came up with a hybrid DE/LB tag that was the average of the top DE salaries and top LB salaries, and that’s what they paid Suggs. They split the difference, basically.

    As someone else mentioned, not sure if that type of thing is allowed under the new CBA.

  23. deltaoracle says: Mar 4, 2013 4:30 PM

    “We’re only talking about $615,000…” What is this – the U.S. Congress?

  24. mrpowers88 says: Mar 4, 2013 5:07 PM

    I would not be surprised if Spencer was lined up at LB in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3. After Lee and Carter went down last year, he was the one with the green sticker making defensive calls. He still may rush the passer in passing situations, but he’s been standing up nearly is whole pro career.

  25. spfripp says: Mar 4, 2013 5:24 PM

    They could send that measly 615,00 my way. That is 6 years of my wife and my salary combined.

  26. gator2006 says: Mar 4, 2013 7:58 PM

    This writer has been begging for this battle for over a year now.

  27. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Mar 5, 2013 3:27 PM

    According to Spencer’s agent, this is completely a non issue in the negotiations. Florio loves to create drama where there is none. Makes chicken little look sane.

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