The Dallas Cowboys have displayed a surprising amount of discipline and tact with regard to roster maintenance thus far in free agency. It couldn't have been easy letting DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher go, but it made little sense for the cap-strapped Cowboys to pay big bucks for aging veterans like them.
But now all of the big-money free-agent contracts have been handed out, and one former Cowboys Pro Bowler remains available. He's younger than both Ware and Hatcher, and he should come significantly cheaper than what he cost the team under the franchise tag the last two years—mainly because of injury concerns.
In fact, the price might just be low enough at this stage for Dallas to re-sign Anthony Spencer.
After all, the team appeared to get one hell of a discount from 27-year-old Henry Melton. The former Pro Bowler will count less than $4 million against the cap in 2014, according to ESPN.com's Todd Archer. He replaces Hatcher, who is four years his elder.
Because the Melton deal is so friendly, the Cowboys still have $6.4 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. With only a little bit of creativity, that should grant them the ability to sign Spencer to a short and/or incentive-laden deal.
Why can't Spencer, who was inactive for virtually the entire 2013 season anyway, replace Ware? That way, the Cowboys save a ton of money and gain two years in the age department at that spot as well. Going younger is a good thing.
Melton and Spencer are cheaper than Hatcher and Ware for a reason. Both are coming off major knee injuries. But beggars can't be choosers, and Dallas has to appreciate the discounts available, especially if it means limiting long-term cap ramifications and avoiding Jay Ratliff-like situations with washed-up stars.
If Melton and Spencer are both able to stay healthy and regain their 2012 Pro Bowl form in 2014, that duo could actually be significantly better than Hatcher and Ware were in 2013.
|Melton/Spencer vs. Hatcher/Ware: Last full seasons|
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|Pro Football Focus|
Earlier this week, Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News reported that Spencer left a visit with the Giants sans contract and that "the Cowboys remain interested in re-signing Spencer if the price is right."
With each passing day, the price likely becomes closer to being right. And it might help that both Melton and Spencer are represented by the same agent, Jordan Woy.
The Cowboys could opt to save their cash and let Rod Marinelli work his magic with whomever else shows up to rush the passer this summer. But if they're serious about trying to do something special before the window closes on an aging core, a short-term investment in Spencer would be worthwhile.