By TPR Staff

Dallas Cowboys

Just like 20 other teams this week, the Cowboys have used their franchise tag. Free agent linebacker Anthony Spencer was hit with the tender yesterday. The move is getting mixed reviews from the fans, mostly because they didn’t want to lose him for nothing. However, an $8.8 million salary in 2012 for a player who was very inconsistent the season before is tough to swallow and likely limits the Cowboys already tough cap situations in free agency.

Cowboys star wide receiver Miles Austin, who battled hamstring problems all of 2011, told local media earlier in the week that he no longer expects it to be an issue going forward. The two-time Pro Bowl selection missed two games and returned to action for four contests before suffering another hamstring injury. He missed four games but played in the final four outings of the season.

New York Giants

In easily the most odd franchise tag story of the week, the defending champs placed the tender on punter Steve Weatherford Monday.  The team wants to re-sign him to a long-term deal and rumors have it that both sides are close to such a deal. However, if it can’t be hammered out, the franchise tag for punters means Weatherford will make about $2.5 million for next season.

After turning down the offer to return to the Giants last year, free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress is now saying that a return is “always a great possibility.” However, with the team so loaded with receiving options that they’re likely to let Mario Manningham walk in free agency, a reunion seems unlikely at this point.

Philadelphia Eagles

In probably the least surprising move of the franchise tag period, Philadelphia used it on free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson over the weekend. Many believe it is to trade the explosive, but diva playmaker to another team to avoid losing him for nothing. But the team insists that it is trying to work out a long-term deal with Jackson. The recent deal Stevie Johnson got in Buffalo has set the market.

With the wreck that was the Eagles linebacking unit in 2011, many have mocked Boston College prospect Luke Kuechly to them in the middle of the first round in this year’s NFL Draft. However, multiple sources close to the team are saying that Philly is interested in courting Carolina free agent linebacker Dan Connor. The thinking is that if Connor is signed, the Eagles would start him in the middle, allowing Jamar Chaney to move back to the strong side, where the team believes he’s best suited.

Washington Redskins

You didn’t think we’d make it through an article without mentioning Peyton watch again, did you? This one has been picking up steam in the past few weeks and I’d be shocked if they didn’t pursue. According to The Washington Post, several people familiar with the Redskins’ plans said the team is comfortable with the risks associated with signing Manning and are preparing a “hard sell.” With two possible meetings per year with his brother Eli, the NFL would love this move for their ratings.

Tight end Fred Davis was hit with a “non-exclusive” franchise tag over the weekend meaning that if any team wishes to sign the four-year veteran, they would have to give up two first-round draft picks as compensation. Not likely, which means that Davis will play on a one-year guaranteed salary of a little more than $5 million if a long-term deal isn’t reached.

Keep an eye out for NFC East division roundups every Wednesday on The Pigskin Report

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