A franchise tag isn’t always seen as a good thing by NFL players.
They’d prefer a long-term deal, of course, and sometimes will hold out in hopes of landing one. Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant did this just before signing his $70 million contract extension before the 2015 season.
But DeMarcus Lawrence wasted no time signing his franchise tag, one that will pay him $17.143 million this season. Why didn’t he hold out?
"Cause I’m not everybody else," Lawrence said. "I'm DeMarcus. DeMarcus does what DeMarcus want to do."
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That being said, Lawrence understands why right guard Zack Martin is sitting out organized team activities (OTAs). Martin is not under the franchise tag, but would like to get a long-term deal done sooner rather than later.
Martin had his fifth-year option picked up before last season. It will pay him $9.341 million in 2018. However, Martin is expected to become the NFL’s highest-paid guard if the two sides can reach an agreement.
"Y’all don’t see Zack here, but Zack’s here," Lawrence said. "I don’t really want to speak on that. Zack has got his things going on. He’s here, so it is what it is."
Lawrence reiterated that he understands the business side of football, and why players may opt to hold out as leverage to land a lucrative contract.
"I know how to play the game, too," Lawrence said. "I might not play the game just the way everybody else play their game, but I know if I keep putting in that work and do what I need to do on the field, they’re going to sign me. So I’m not really worried about it."
Lawrence, 26, is coming off the best season of his career.
He had a team-leading 14.5 sacks, more than double the second-place sacker — David Irving, with seven. The 14.5 sacks were tied for second-most in the league.
Most impressive may be that those 14.5 sacks led to a combined loss of 160 yards for opponents. Additionally, he had a team-leading 52 quarterback pressures, more than the next two Cowboys combined – Tyrone Crawford (26) and Maliek Collins (25).
But Lawrence doesn’t feel any added pressure to duplicate that success.
"It’s not more pressure,” Lawrence said. "Every year you’ve got to go back to that transition of getting better every year. You’re not going to be the same player [that] you was before. My main focus is just getting better."