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March 04, 2013

Cowboys put franchise tag on Anthony Spencer for second straight year, release Gerald Sensabaugh

A little over a week ago, owner Jerry Jones offered several reasons why the Cowboys couldn't keep free agent linebacker Anthony Spencer.

He said Spencer's asking price would likely be too high. He said Spencer may be too small to play defensive end in the 4-3 defense. He said it may be more prudent to use the money elsewhere considering that the two most important players in Monte Kiffin's defense were the rush end and the three-technique defensive tackle. He also said the defense has better players now than than when they put the franchise tag on Spencer last season. 

In end, however, the Cowboys decided that Spencer was too good and too valuable for them to just let walk away. 

The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Spencer for the second straight year, guaranteeing him a $10.6 million contract for next season, just a couple of hours before the deadline.

Spencer's agent Jordan Woy tweeted this afternoon that the two sides would still continue to work on a long-term deal.

To help create cap room for Spencer's deal, the Cowboys released three players, cornerback Vince Agnew, linebacker Brashton Satele and safety Gerald Sensaugh, a starter who was slated to earn $3 million next season.

Sensabaugh announced the move on Twitter: "Been informed I'm being released for cap purposes... had a great run #CowboysNation I appreciate the organization and my teammates."

CuttingSensabaugh saves the Cowboys $1.4 million. 

The Cowboys still have to make some more moves to get back under the salary cap of $123 million before March 12. Guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, defensive Jay Ratliff and cornerback Orlando Scandrick have already agreed to restructure their deals if necessary.

Tagging Spencer was important for the Cowboys they will either have the services of their best defender from a year ago or they have the flexibility of trading him for possible draft picks.

Spencer led the Cowboys with 95 tackles and had a career-high 11 sacks. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time, albeit as an injury replacement.

Spencer even took over play calling duties on defense following season-ending injuries to linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter.

He will be asked to move to defensive end in the Kiffin's new defense. Although he may be a little undersized to play there at 254 pounds, he is not unfamiliar with the position.  Spencer played defensive end in college at Purdue and was moved to outside linebacker after joining the Cowboys as a first round pick in 2007. 

The move with Sensabaugh means the Cowboys will have to target a safety in the draft or free agency. The two holdovers with the most promise in Barry Church and Matt Johnson are coming off injuries.

Sensabugh played four years for the Cowboys, starting all but two games. However, he made four plays with just eight interceptions, including none last season.

Clarence Hill 

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