|I'm ready to spend some cash!|
A Houston Chronicle piece this morning says that Williams will not receive the Texans tag, so he's going to be available.
Yet the story in Cowboys-land this morning has Anthony Spencer receiving the franchise tag. Doesn't this close off a Williams pursuit? Not at all.
As long as Spencer does not sign his tender, his contract is not guaranteed for 2012 and the Cowboys could renounce his tag at any time, pushing Spencer onto the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Tagging Spencer may just be a short-term insurance policy. The Cowboys can ask him not to sign it and give them a few days to pursue other available options. The top players always go quickly. Their contracts are the biggest issued and they're done when teams have maximum cap space. Recall how quickly Albert Haynesworth signed with Washington the year he became a UFA. The deal was rumored to be worked out in the hours prior to the window's opening and his signing was announced just minutes after players could sign.
I doubt Mario Williams would last 24 hours on the market. Let's play the what-if game and say Jerry goes for Williams and succeeds. He can then turn Spencer loose. Teams will still have gobs of cap space and with the Williams and Cliff Avrils likely gone, Spencer rises to the top of available outside linebackers.
Spencer could guarantee himself a nice chunk of change by signing Dallas' tender, but by waiting a day or two, he can greatly improve his chances of getting a long-term deal with the big signing bonus every free agent covets.
This is all speculation on my part. I have no more knowledge than the NFP writer that Dallas will or won't pursue Mario Williams. Dallas may decide it's cheaper and more effective to keep Spencer and look for a young rusher in the draft. But if Jerry does want Super Mario, tagging Anthony Spencer shouldn't get in his way.
Update: This Dan Pompei story for the National Football Post this morning recaps Combine interviews. For those handicapping the players for Dallas' 14th overall pick, you can raise the odds for David DeCastro and Fletcher Cox, and drop those on Dre Kirkpatrick a bit. The first two made themselves look safer as top-15 options. Kirkpatrick apparently did the opposite. One team rep described Kirkpatrick as, "difficult to trust."