PHOENIX – The Cowboys don’t have a long term deal done with quarterback
Jones said he expects the Romo extension will get done, he just doesn’t know when at this point.
“Quarterbacks usually take precedent,” Jones said. “Not like I don’t like Spencer, but quarterbacks usually come first and foremost. That's it. They take up a significant part of your cap. It obviously dictates a lot for us this year when we're all said and done.”
While extension talks are ongoing with Romo, they haven’t yet commenced with Spencer.
Multiple options still remain for the former linebacker, who could play on his $10.6 million franchise tag, sign an extension or be traded. Jones said he hasn’t received any substantial offers for Spencer yet, and he foresees Spencer wearing a Cowboys uniform this season. He said he believes Spencer still has several strong years left.
“At the end of the day, we plan on Anthony being here,” Jones said. “Now anybody at anytime, there has always been a philosophy if the right deal is there that makes us a better team, then you’ve got to take a look at it.”
Jones said it was especially important to defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli that the Cowboys find a way to keep Spencer around. Spencer led all Cowboys with 106 tackles last season, including a career-high 11 sacks, eight tackles for loss, 26 quarterback pressures and two forced fumbles. When
“I think there’s no question if you turn on the tape consistently he was probably our best defensive player last year when you take into account Ware was hurt and some of the things that went on,” Jones said. “It really felt like he’d be a big plus for us opposite of DeMarcus and could make our defense, with what Monte and Rod want to do, would make us a better defense. We’re going to be able to do that.”
Jones said Kiffin and Marinelli believe Spencer can not only make the switch, but that he’ll excel as a 4-3 defensive end, a position he hasn’t played since his college days at Purdue.
“Him and DeMarcus (Ware) both put their hand on the ground and played,” Jones said. “It's not a doubt in my mind they'll be really good football players in this system. Some people think they'll be better than they were standing up.”
The Cowboys won’t have much room to operate in free agency until they can extend either Romo or Spencer. While Jones would like to get a deal done with Romo, he doesn’t feel the need to rush. He said the Cowboys weren’t going to be big players in free agency this season, even if they could lessen Romo’s $16.8 million cap hit.
The Cowboys signed seven new players in 2012 after signing just one in 2011. Typically, a team can’t afford to look to free agency year after year without getting in trouble financially. The Cowboys didn’t sign a free agent from a different team in 2008 or 2010, and they’ve yet to this season.
Instead, Jones wants to focus on getting his own guys healthy and back on the field, rather than try to fill roster spots with other teams’ former athletes.
“At some point, we will look to improve ourselves,” he said. “But it was never going to be a deal where we were out shopping in a big way in free agency. That doesn’t mean we won’t get one or two guys when all is said and done. Right guy, right time, right place and we’ll take a look at it.”