Should He Stay or Should He Go: Marcus Spears

It's officially the offseason and that means it is time to start figuring out which current Cowboys should be looking for new employment in 2011. In the spirit of the Clash, we're asking "Should He Stay or Should He Go." Next up is Marcus Spears.

Name: Marcus Spears

Position: Defensive End

If He Goes, Will There Be Trouble?: Spears didn't play in the final eight games of the season, so you could make an argument that getting rid of him will be the ticket back to the playoffs. The team was 1-7 with Spears starting at defensive end, but 5-3 once his calf injury forced him to injured reserve. Clearly we aren't talking about a player whose presence makes a major difference in the proceedings.

That said, it's not like the team has some sure thing waiting in the wings. Stephen Bowen took over when Spears went down and did okay, but he's hardly some star in the making. He's a five-year veteran backup and probably isn't destined for more than a reserve role on a winning team. What's more, Igor Olshansky, who starts on the other side of the line, isn't the kind of player who makes his teammates better by garnering tons of attention from the offensive line.

There won't be trouble if Spears leaves, but it would force the team to find an upgrade because there isn't one in house. With so many other issues to deal with this offseason, adding another one might not make much sense.

If He Stays, Will There Be Double?: He's not blocking anyone, so there's no trouble on that front, and he isn't hurting the team. The big question, then, is if he fits what Rob Ryan is going to be trying to do on the defensive line next season.

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Like most 3-4 enthusiasts, Ryan's defense doesn't call for defensive ends to be huge playmakers. Their job is to occupy blockers and open up opportunities for linebackers to stop the offense in its track. If you get a little more, like Ryan's brother Rex gets from Shaun Ellis, that's great but it isn't absolutely vital. Spears fits in that regard, although the final decision will come down to money.

So, Should He Stay or Should He Go?: Spears is a free agent so he has quite a bit of say in where he winds up next season. The shape of this offseason is so hard to figure out because of the labor issues that we can't be sure the Cowboys will even have a chance to shop the free agent market before next season. Spears is the devil you know and there will likely be something to be said for that if this offseason is as abbreviated as many imagine.

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