DeMarcus Lawrence is going to be on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster in 2018, executive vice president Stephen Jones said Thursday night.
It’s just a question of whether Lawrence and the Cowboys can reach a long-term deal, or whether the Cowboys will have to use the franchise tag on their top pass rusher.
“We won’t let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year,” said Jones, who attended the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award ceremony at Ford Center.
“We’ll do everything we can to try to make something work and, if we don’t get it done, we’ll franchise him. Then we’ll go back to work.”
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The Cowboys have until 3 p.m. March 6 to place the franchise tag on Lawrence, which would cost them about $17.5 million. That’s why they’d like to reach a long-term deal so they could structure the contract to avoid that significant a cap hit.
“We’d like to not have that franchise tag hanging out there,” Jones said. “There’s a big negotiation ahead of us. But we don’t want DeMarcus Lawrence going anywhere. We think a lot of him.”
Either way, Lawrence is a necessity. This is a guy coming off a career year with 14.5 sacks, tying for second most in the league, and more than double the second-place man on the Cowboys (David Irving with seven).
Most impressive may be that those 14.5 sacks led to a total loss of 160 yards for opponents.
Lawrence had a team-leading 52 quarterback pressures, double the second-place man – Tyrone Crawford with 26. In other words, Lawrence had more QB pressures than Crawford (26) and Maliek Collins (25) combined.
So Lawrence is likely looking for a big-time deal that would make him among the highest-paid rushers in the league. The New York Giants handed Olivier Vernon a five-year, $85 million contract with $52.5 million in guarantees two years ago.
The Cowboys may not want to go that far for Lawrence. There has to be some concern about his long-term health considering he’s undergone a pair of back surgeries by the age of 25.
For now, the Cowboys are simply comfortable knowing Lawrence will be back next season. It’s just a question of what type of contract.