MARCO GARCIA/Associated Press
According to Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan, the Cowboys have opened up talks with both Spencer and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. That's far from a guarantee that either player will be back in Dallas in 2014, but the Cowboys are probably determining where those players stand and how likely they might be to bring them back for another season.
Hatcher is in a much different situation than Spencer, however. First of all, he is going to be 32 years old when the season starts. No bueno.
Second, he is coming off of a career year. While his age will prohibit him from scoring a huge payday in free agency, he's still more likely than Spencer to receive a deal that's inflated due to his breakout year. If the Cowboys are seeking value, it seems like Spencer is more likely than Hatcher to offer it.
If the Cowboys do indeed sign one medium- to high-priced free agent, defensive tackle Henry Melton might be their man. If Hatcher leaves Dallas, Melton will provide the interior pass-rushing ability the Cowboys will desperately need. He had 13 sacks in the two seasons prior to his 2013 injury. And if Dallas is going to pay big bucks for a defensive tackle, better a 27-year-old than a 32-year-old.
If the Cowboys want to save their money to make sure they can re-sign left tackle Tyron Smith and wide receiver Dez Bryant, however, they'll need a fallback plan that doesn't involve Melton. In that case, Clinton McDonald and Adam Carriker (who can play anywhere along the line) will be low-priced options who could potentially offer value.