The Dallas Cowboys decided today (Wednesday) to release defensive end Marcus Spears, one of their longest-tenured players.
Spears, 30, was scheduled to make $2 million this season and count $2.7 million against the salary cap.
The Cowboys will designate Spears as a post-June 1 cut, meaning they can spread the $2.1 of dead money — a total equivalent to the guaranteed bonus remaining on his contract — over the next two years. The savings, $2 million this year, won’t be credited until after that date, and as a result the Cowboys are still roughly $175,000 below the payroll ceiling set by the NFL.
With Spears gone, the Cowboys will lose one of their most charismatic leaders. Selected in the first round of the 2005 draft nine spots after DeMarcus Ware, Spears became a fixture in the Cowboys’ defensive line. He started 89 games with Dallas and recorded 10 sacks, 50 quarterback pressures. In 2011, he signed a five-year, $19.2 million contract. But soon thereafter he was demoted and used mostly as a reserve.
Eventually Spears, who started only six games last season, became expendable when the Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator in January and decided to switch to a 4-3 scheme. Once picked by former coach Bill Parcells to be one of the linchpins in the team’s 3-4 system, Spears now didn’t have a role that suited him.
“Fans of Dallas thank u all so much for 8 yrs the good and bad times ill be moving on!!” Spears wrote on his Twitter account. “The support has been tremendous! From my family thx U.”
RELATED: Cowboys move on from Spears, no immediate salary-cap benefit
Marcus Spears’ eight-year run in Dallas is over.
The Cowboys designated the defensive end as a post-June 1 cut, meaning they will get no salary-cap relief now. They still are only $175,000 under the cap, keeping them on the sideline in free agency. (They would have saved only $600,000 if they had released Spears now and not designated him as a post-June 1 cut.)
Spears, the 20th overall pick in 2005, was scheduled to make $2 million in 2013 in the third year of a five-year deal and would have counted $2.7 million against the salary cap. His release in June will save the Cowboys $2 million this season, though he will count $700,000 in dead money. Spears will count $1.4 million against the team’s cap in 2014.
Spears tweeted his release Wednesday, saying, “Fans of Dallas thank u all so much for 8 yrs the good and bad times ill be moving on!! The support has been tremendous! From my family thx. Guys don’t be sad for me please! I’ve been blessed beyond measure! Everything you do in life is for a season except for family!”
Spears started 89 games in his career, making 314 tackles, 10 sacks, 50 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles. But he did not fit the 4-3 defense the Cowboys are moving to under Monte Kiffin.
The Cowboys have another post-June 1 designation they could use, and right tackle Doug Free is a candidate. Free is scheduled to make $7 million and count $10 million against the cap in 2013.