NFC East Contract Year Watch: Dallas Cowboys

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 9, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 27: Phil Loadholt #71 of the Minnesota Vikings makes contact with Anthony Spencer #93 of the Dallas Cowboys on August 27, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Money talks, people. So in an attempt to help determine who might be hungrier than others in 2012, we're taking a look at players from each NFC East team that are headed into the final year of their contracts. 

We wrap up the series with the Dallas Cowboys, who have two key defensive players slated to hit unrestricted free agency following the season: pass-rusher Anthony Spencer and cornerback Mike Jenkins.

Now, there's no doubt that both of these players are important to the Cowboys, but there's a very decent chance neither of them return to Dallas for 2013.

Spencer has been a serviceable sidekick to DeMarcus Ware, but his sack numbers have yet to take off, and the Cowboys seem timid about giving him a long-term deal. He'll play under the franchise tag this season.

Jenkins was the team's top corner the last few years, but he's being replaced in the starting lineup by Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. As a result, the disgruntled veteran reportedly asked for a trade in the offseason. Unless things change dramatically this year, he'll likely be gone next March.

On the bright side, the fact that he's auditioning for a new, long-term deal should light a fire under Jenkins to perform well this season. Spencer was playing under the same pressure last year, so there's no telling if things will be any different for him in 2012.

Still, it could work to the Cowboys' advantage that two fairly important defensive players will have a lot on the line this season.


Other Cowboys Entering Contract Years

Victor Butler

Entering the final year of his rookie deal, he'll look to prove in 2012 that he can be relied upon to one day step in for Ware or Spencer.


Barry Church

The new starter at strong safety is merely a restricted free agent after this season. This could be a big year for him, which could result in quite the payday.


Kenyon Coleman

Considering the talent they have up front, the 33-year-old Coleman isn't likely to earn a long-term deal. In fact, there's a decent chance this is it for him in Dallas.


Phil Costa

The center will have to prove himself this year. Otherwise, they might let him walk as a restricted free agent in the spring.


Felix Jones

The key for Jones, if he wants a long-term deal next offseason, will be to stay healthy in 2012.


Kevin Ogletree

If he can win the No. 3 job, he'll have a chance to earn a sizable contract. If not, he might not even be on the team at the start of the season.


Other Cowboys Playing for Long-Term Deals

Josh Brent

Unless he takes a big leap forward this year (which isn't out of the question), he'll likely have to wait two years for a new contract.


Dan Connor

He signed a two-year deal as a free agent, but could earn something more substantial if he can hold onto the starting job this year.


Jason Hatcher

The 30-year-old is one year into a three-year deal and is probably facing an uphill climb.


Sean Lee

His rookie deal expires after 2013, but another big season should put him in line for an extension next offseason.


Sean Lissemore

See: Sean Lee.


Tony Romo

He has two years left on his deal, which means he and his agent should begin pushing next year. 


Lawrence Vickers

He also becomes a free agent in two years.


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