There are three reasons why it’s going to be difficult for the Cowboys to reach a long-term agreement with Demarcus Lawrence this offseason.
That’s why two sources said Monday the Cowboys will put the franchise tag on Lawrence before the March 6 deadline, if the sides can’t reach an agreement. The first day to place the tag on players is Tuesday.
A source said the Cowboys expect to meet with Lawrence’s agent at the NFL scouting combine next week.
The cost for putting the franchise tag on Lawrence is expected to be $17.5 million, which would use up virtually all of the $19.1 million in cap space they currently have available.
The Cowboys have used the franchise tag just five times on four players: Safety Ken Hamlin (2000), tackle Flozell Adams (2002), linebacker Anthony Spencer (2012, 2013) and receiver Dez Bryant (2015). The Cowboys worked out a long-term deal with Bryant and removed the tag
Understand, it’s nobody’s fault if Lawrence and the Cowboys find themselves in a stalemate. It’s just how the NFL works.
Lawrence, who had a career-high 14.5 sacks last season, will command a deal that’s worth more than five-year, $85 million Olivier Vernon signed with the New York Giants two years ago.
The Cowboys will be reluctant to sign him to a deal like that because it’s a huge monetary commitment to a player such as the 25-year-old Lawrence who’s already had two back surgeries and never had more than eight sacks in a season until this year.
Coach Jason Garrett loves the way he plays, and he’ll talk forever about how Lawrence put off having back surgery in 2016 to help the team, even though it compromised his play. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can’t say enough good things about Lawrence, ranging from his play against the run to his relentless nature on the field.
None of that has anything to do with the Cowboys’ reluctance to make Lawrence one of the game’s highest-paid players.
Among 4-3 defensive ends, Vernon’s contract ranks No.1 in guaranteed money ($40 million), average per year ($17 million) and total money ($85 million).
Just so you know, Vernon’s agent - David Canter - also represents Lawrence.