By Mike Fisher, 105.3 The Fan | CBSDFW.COM

IRVING (105.3 THE FAN)  – 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 saccks 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.

Meanwhile, head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones continue to meet to evaluate the possibility of alterations that could include: the hiring of a new Garrett lieutenant to call plays vs. the elevation of staffer Bill Callahan to fill that role; and the dismissal/reassignment of tight ends coach John Garrett (Jason’s brother and trusted advisor) along with the pursuit of former Dallas aide Tony Sparano as the new tight ends coach.

As I reported on Thursday, Jones confidantes have told me they have strongly urged the owner to give Garrett help in terms of playcalling.

And as Garrett himself told me live on 105.3 The Fan on Jan. 2 in regard to playcalling and offensive coordinator changes, “Everything is on the table.”

The hiring of  Kiffin (and the firing of Rob Ryan) is part of the change on the defensive side as Jones fulfills his promise of an “uncomfortable’’ time at Valley Ranch following the team’s 8-8 season. I’m told Kiffin is in contact with USC staffer Scottie Hazelton to coach linebackers and that incumbent secondary coach Jerome Henderson is among the holdovers who might remain in place.

Contrary to many ensuing reports, none of this necessarily constitutes a “showdown’’ between owner and coach or a “circus’’ as the organization goes about its business. It’s simply an evaluation process (just like the ones unfolding in most other NFL cities) – and two promises fulfilled.

One, Jones vowing “uncomfortable’’ change.

And, two, Garrett conceding that “everything is on the table.’’

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