Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer, who signed a franchise tag in the spring for $8.8 million this season, said he is not focused on getting the multi-year deal he will seek after this season.
“I don’t think about it at all,” Spencer said. “After I signed the franchise tag, I put it behind me.”
But he acknowledged he will need more than six sacks, his career-high total from last season, to entice a long-term deal from the Cowboys going forward. Spencer said having a full off-season to absorb defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s defense _ unlike like year, when there was an NFL lockout _ should help.
This year, Spencer said Cowboys’ defenders “are learning it the way you’re supposed to learn instead of having it all shoved in my face in a big mess.” He believes that will lead will to a more consistent pass rush from players other than DeMarcus Ware (19.5 last season).
“I believe so,” Spencer said. “Right now, we’re doing things to try to make that happen. When the season comes, we’ll do what we need to do to win the game.”
Stephen Jones, the team’s executive vice-president and director of player personnel, acknowledged there is “a big gap” in financial perspectives between the two sides heading into the 2012 season, which could be Spencer’s last with the Cowboys.
“He’s more on the DeMarcus side of the money. We’re more on the other side. There’s a big gap,” Jones said. “So, let’s see if we can close the gap one way or the other. Hopefully, he’s right. I’d like for him to go get 16 sacks and have a big year. Right year, we’re at point … the best thing to do is play it out after this season and see what happens.”
_ Jimmy Burch