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Cowboys franchise-tag linebacker Anthony Spencer (again)

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The Cowboys took a risk last offseason and used their franchise tag on quasi-productive linebacker Anthony Spencer. It paid off in spades as Spencer produced a career year with 11 sacks. The Cowboys apparently aren't OK with letting him go, though, and are using their franchise tag on him again for 2013.

Spencer's agent, Jordan Woy, tweeted out Monday that the Cowboys intended to use the tag for the second year in a row.

It's a bold move by Dallas considering Spencer will now receive a guaranteed one-year deal worth $10.638 million. (The tag number for linebackers this year is $9.619 million, but Spencer was tagged last year, so he gets a 120 percent pay raise.)

Making matters more complicated is Dallas' move to a new defense. Spencer thrived in the Cowboys' 3-4 defense last year and was drafted as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

He'll now move to defensive end (presumably) in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme and be paid a high price -- all of which counts against the salary cap! -- to try and generate a pass rush from a much more difficult position. Spencer does have the advantage, as some have pointed out, of having played 4-3 defensive end during college at Purdue.

Keeping Spencer, who was incredibly productive in 2012, from hitting the open market is a smart move. But context matters, too, and I'm not so sure he fits what the Cowboys are doing, particularly at the price they're paying.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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