Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence never had a problem playing the 2017 season under the franchise tag.
And the deadline for him to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys expired at 3 p.m. Monday, which means he’ll play under the tag again in 2018.
Lawrence has already parlayed his breakout performance of 14.5 sacks in 2017 into a $17.1 million contract in 2018, per the terms of the franchise tag.
The sides never really got into a heavy discussion regarding a long-term contract extension because there was too much uncertainty regarding what to pay Lawrence, who had only nine sacks his first three seasons combined.
The Cowboys don’t believe he is a one-hit wonder because his dominance in 2017 was transcendent and his work ethic can’t be questioned.
He had a team-leading 52 quarterback pressures, more than the next two Cowboys combined — Tyrone Crawford (26) and Maliek Collins (25).
But there is also nothing wrong with letting him put together another strong season to remove all doubt, especially when you consider that Lawrence is seeking a big-money extension that will pay him among the top five players at his position in the league, if not No. 1.
New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon is the current standard bearer, signing a five-year, $85 million contract in 2016. His contract is a starting point for Lawrence. Not coincidentally, they both share the same agent.
It’s why Lawrence, 26, never had a problem being patient and playing on the tag in 2017. And why the non-action Monday was no big deal.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Lawrence said in May about playing under the tag. “If I do my thing, I put up my stats and I help my team win, they ain’t got no choice but to sign me. That’s how I feel ... So I’m not really worried about it.”