IRVING, Texas – The news that Anthony Spencer has undergone season-ending microfracture surgery on his injured knee continues an extensive curse of the franchise tag early this year.
Half of the eight players who received the tag are either likely to miss the entire season or haven’t played a snap this year.
Spencer is now the third player on the franchise tag to be out for the year just three weeks into the season. Broncos tackle Ryan Clady (foot) is already on injured reserve, while defensive tackle Henry Melton tore his ACL in the Bears’ most recent game against the Steelers.
They’re not the only ones suffering from injuries, either. Five of the eight players who received a franchise tag this year are hurt in some degree.
Bills safety Jairus Byrd hasn’t played this season with plantar fasciitis in his foot. He was upgraded from doubtful to questionable but still hasn’t made his way onto the field. In addition, Chiefs tackle Branden Albert sprained his shoulder against the Cowboys, leaving for part of that Week 2 contest. He may need to fight through that injury for a while.
That leaves just three players – Colts punter Pat McAfee, Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson and Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks – as the healthy players on a franchise tag right now. Apart from Johnson and his 1.5 sacks this year, the season hasn’t exactly started mesmerizingly for anyone on the tag.
Starks wasn’t a starter at all to begin the season for the Dolphins, as Jared Odrick and Paul Soliai manned the tackle spots the first two weeks of the season in Miami. It wasn’t until Soliai got hurt that Starks started for the first time in Week 3. Meanwhile, McAfee ranks 13th in the league in punting average at 46.8 yards and 14th in net punting average at 41.5 yards.
The franchise tag can be a risky investment for a team in the short-term if the player doesn’t meet lofty expectations, but it frees a team up from investing far into the future. Meanwhile, it puts a nice sum of cash in the pocket of a player in the short-term, but it’s also risky for those players’ long-term security and stability.
A serious injury and a down year can put the tagged players in a bind when searching for a hefty, long-term contract after the season. That looks like it’ll be the case for many of those players in what appears to be a cursed year for the franchise tag.
IRVING, Texas – With the news coming from Jerry Jones today, of the likely knee surgery for Anthony Spencer ending his season, lets take a look at the options for the Cowboys and how they will manage this situation.
You have to give Jerry and Stephen Jones along with Will McClay and these scouts a great deal of credit for what they have done this off season and throughout training camp adding depth to this roster. There has to be a willingness by the front office and coaches to consistently want to churn the roster. Jason Garrett and this staff should also be commended for their part as well to take on players even when it would be very easy to stand pat with their current 53 man roster. I have always believed that one of Garrett’s great strengths is his understanding of how player personnel works in this league.
There are a couple of different ways the Cowboys will be able to manage this. The first one and most obvious, is to continue to start George Selvie in Spencer’s spot. Next to Jason Hatcher, Selvie has been one of the most consistent players this defensive line has had. He has given Rod Marinelli quality snaps, down-after-down and his play has also allowed Monte Kiffin to move DeMarcus Ware around to gain favorable pass rush situations. There has been no let down in Selvie’s game in regards to whether it has been run or pass. He has shown the ability to hold up at the point which was an area that I believed he would struggle with playing on the left side, but that has not been the case at all.
The next move from the front office and coaches will most likely be to move towering Caesar Rayford from his defensive tackle spot back to his more natural position of defensive end. Rayford has been getting that work inside but his game is better suited to play on the edge, so that should be a nice fit. Edgar Jones has also seen work at end so he will get more work as well. The club could also choose to bring Jason Vega up off the practice squad to play end. Vega was signed very late in camp and made a push for a 53 man spot with some nice work against the Houston Texans in a preseason game.
McClay and his staff might also choose to try and poach a player off another club’s practice squad. Some options might be Craig Roh with the Panthers, Xavier Proctor with the Lions and John Youboty with the Broncos. If they go this route, those players have to remain on their active roster for at least three weeks. The staff could also look toward a veteran free agent but they have proven that signing younger players and trying to work with them, tends to be a better option. Also don’t discount the possibility of a trade. This club has done a nice job of collecting late round picks that could also be used to move for players.
With this injury to Anthony Spencer lasting the majority of the summer and now into the fall, this front office and coaching staff were prepared to handle it. This could have gone the other way and they could have been dealing with an injury that happened Sunday and from my experience, that is no fun. There are solid options and place and with the way this scouting department has been operating lately, they will have answers in place sooner rather than later which wasn’t always the case.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will be without Anthony Spencer for several more weeks and possibly the rest of the season, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who said the defensive end could need microfracture surgery.
“It’s a real setback,” Jones told 105.3 “The Fan” in Dallas this morning. “It could be out for the season.”
Spencer, who has played only one of three games this year, is expected to have his second surgery on his left knee that has given Spencer problems since the first days of training camp back in mid-July. Spencer underwent what was believed to be a minor arthroscopic procedure and the timetable was to return by the first game of the season against the Giants.
Spencer missed that game but returned the following week in Kansas City. However, he wasn’t able to practice much this week and was held out Sunday against the Rams.
“Here’s a case of a guy you almost have to tie him up to get him off the field,” Jones said of Spencer. “He was so diligent in his rehab. The individual that I have the most empathy for is Spencer because of the type of person he is.
In the offseason, the Cowboys cleared enough cap space to put the $10.63 million franchise tag on Spencer for the second straight year. Spencer made his first trip to the Pro Bowl last year when he had a career-high 11 sacks.
The Cowboys are fortunate to have veteran George Selvie, a late-camp addition who has started the last three games.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys added some depth to the defensive line by churning that bottom of the roster once again.
The club signed former Colts defensive tackle Drake Nevis (6-1, 297) on Tuesday and waived Jerome Long.
Nevis, who worked out with the Cowboys last week, was a third-round pick of Indianapolis in 2011. He played in 14 games for the Colts the last two years, even started three games in 2012. The former LSU standout finished both of his first two seasons in the league on IR, with hand and back injuries the last two years.
Nevis was released at the end of this past training camp. He was claimed off waivers by the Chargers but released shortly after.
At LSU, Nevis started 18 games and was a first-team All-American in 2010. Nevis joins a Cowboys locker room that has former LSU teammates Morris Claiborne and Danny McCray. Nevis was also a teammate of Caesar Rayford, who came over from Indianapolis.
Long, who spent training camp with the Cowboys in Oxnard, was cut at the end of the preseason but then re-signed just before the first game against the Giants. Long has played the last three games for the Cowboys but has been more of a rotational player.