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After two straight seasons of losing the final game of the regular season for the division title, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones promised change. Jones fired Rob Ryan and hired Monte Kiffin to take over as defensive coordinator.
Jones added five more new assistants following the hiring of Kiffin. He hired Rod Marinelli to coach the defensive line, Rich Bisaccia to coordinate the special teams, Derek Dooley to coach the receivers, Gary Brown to coach the running backs and Frank Pollack to coach the offensive line. That’s six new assistants. Kiffin, Marinelli and Bisaccia were together for years in Tampa Bay before joining the Cowboys.
Out of the six new assistant coaches, the one standout hire is Kiffin that’ll bring his Tampa 2 defense switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3. And with the team trying to salvage their salary cap issues, will the Cowboys be able to re-sign Anthony Spencer when he becomes a free agent on March 12? Spencer can play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and outside linebacker in a 3-4. The 6-year pro is coming off his best season with a career high of 11-sacks that earned him Pro Bowl honors. The problem is the Cowboys are $20 million over the cap. Mainly, the Cowboys want to give quarterback Tony Romo a contract extension, but in order to do so, the Cowboys need to restructure multiple players contracts to free up some cap space to give Romo a long-term deal and to re-sign Spencer.
Romo is the obvious #1 priority on the Cowboys radar in terms of dishing out the cash, but Spencer could end up walking. Jordan Woy, Spencer’s agent said he has been in touch with the Dallas Cowboys about a new contract for his client but that there is “nothing new to report” on the talks. Spencer was franchised last season for $8.8 million and could possibly again in 2013, but this time at a higher cost of $10.6 million. “We are very challenged under the cap,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said last week at the NFL scouting combine, “and so we’re going to have to pick our spots to spend this money is the best way for me to answer it.”
The Cowboys would like to keep Spencer aboard, including head coach Jason Garrett.
“When Spencer was coming out of Purdue, he was a 4-3 defensive end. We converted him to an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense,” Garrett said. “I think what’s natural to him is what he did growing up. He certainly has a comfort level from his past and he certainly has done a lot of it here in the National Football League.”
Spencer, without a shadow of doubt has all the tools to make the transition to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 Tampa 2 defensive scheme, but with Spencer expected to seek an average salary in the range of $8 to $10 million per season, I wouldn’t bank on Spencer playing in Big D next season with the organization’s cap issues and trying to free up enough space for a Tony Romo extension.