Source: Cowboys negotiating with LB Spencer

Source: Cowboys negotiating with LB Spencer

Published Jan. 13, 2013 7:53 p.m. ET

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have begun preliminary contract discussions with defensive standout Anthony Spencer, 105.3 The Fan has learned.

"I will say,'' agent Jordan Woy tells me, "that Anthony wants to stay here and that the Cowboys smartly want to keep him. Hopefully there will be some creativity available to get something done.''

The Cowboys placed their franchise tag on Spencer a year ago, paying him $8.8 million. He could be franchised again at a cost of $10.6 million. Both sides would prefer a longer-term deal and in any case, Dallas is short on cap room.

Spencer was a standout on the Dallas defense this season, with 11 sacks and a team-high 106 tackles. The new 4-3 scheme would move him from linebacker to defensive end, a position he played at Purdue before becoming a No. 1 pick by the Cowboys in 2007.

Spencer's abilities, I'm told, were included among the subjects in this week's meetings with newly hired defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

"With DeMarcus Ware and Spencer at the ends,'' Cowboys consultant Larry Lacewell tells me, "they can have the best pair of defensive ends in the NFL.''