Count DeMarcus Lawrence and Anthony Hitchens among the Dallas Cowboys’ free agents that hope to remain with the organization.
Lawrence, who turns 26 in April, is coming off a career year. He had a career-high 14 1/2 sacks, marking the first time a Cowboys player has had double-digit sacks since Jason Hatcher in 2013.
The Cowboys didn’t discuss an extension with him last off-season because he was coming off another back surgery, and it was unknown just how effective he could be. He’s proven to be among the top pass rushers in the game when healthy.
“I already know what my situation is,” Lawrence said. “I don’t really care about it because I know how the Cowboys feel about me and they know how I feel about the organization. My agent is going to take care of everything, and he knows how everyone feels.
“I know I’m not going anywhere.”
Lawrence is a strong candidate for the franchise tag, which would pay him roughly $17.4 million next season. But he wasn’t ready to weigh in on that possibility.
“I can’t tell you if they’re going to put a tag on me,” Lawrence said. “We’re just going to let the chips fall where they may. I don’t have time sit here and think about. I’m trying to figure out whether I’m going to Jamaica or Hawaii.”
Hitchens, meanwhile, is the other significant player headed toward free agency. Working out a long-term deal with him could be more difficult.
Hitchens has proven to be a dependable starter in the league, and should attract interest from other teams. The question is whether the Cowboys would make a strong enough offer given the progress Jaylon Smith has made.
But Hitchens made it clear that his No. 1 preference would be staying with the Cowboys.
“Yeah, I want to. The guys in this locker room are my brothers,” Hitchens said. “Unfortunately, it’s not always like that, so I’m just taking it day by day and be ready for whatever.”
Hitchens went on to acknowledge the business side of the game and making sure he takes advantage of a limited earning power window for him and his family.
“It’s a business. I knew that getting into it, so now it’s just going to be more of a business,” Hitchens said. “You never know it’s a business until it hits you on a business side, but it’s something that’s out of my control. Hopefully, I’m back here. This is home for me and we’ll go from there.”