After three disappointing seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence still believes he’s capable of being a Pro Bowl player.
In early 2014, the Dallas Cowboys decided to move from one DeMarcus to another. Longtime legendary defensive end and franchise sack leader DeMarcus Ware was released by the team that offseason after nine years and 117.0 sacks.
His replacement, Boise State pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft following a trade by Dallas with the Washington Redskins that move the Cowboys from #47 to #34. It cost Dallas their third round selection, 78th overall, in order to move up the required 13 spots.
A foot injury at the start of training camp delayed Lawrence’s development his rookie season. He didn’t start playing until Week Nine and didn’t start a single game. In fact, Lawrence didn’t record his first sack until the postseason, posting three total tackles and 2.0 sacks in two playoff appearances. Fans hoped it was a sign for greater things to come.
In 2015, the Cowboys shifted Lawrence from right end to left. The position change took some time to adapt to as the young defender would only record 1.0 solo sack through the first nine weeks of his sophomore season.
Lawrence started 13 of his 16 games in 2015, and things started to click for the youngster the second half of that season. DeMarcus posted 7.0 sacks in the final eight games of the year. Again, fans were hopeful his second half stats were more signs of his continued development.
But despite leading the Cowboys in sacks (8.0) in his second season, Lawrence’s personal success disappointingly did not lead to team success as Dallas would finish the year with a 4-12 record.
Last year, the Cowboys experienced a team resurgence after the selection of a terrific draft class, posting a 13-3 record. But Lawrence himself had a terrible season. Following offseason back surgery, the former second round selection was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after violating the league’s drug policy.
The delayed start once again sunk Lawrence’s season. The then 24-year old started in just three of his nine games in Dallas last year, recording 11 total tackles and a single sack.
This offseason, Lawrence underwent his second straight back surgery. And he is in the final year of his rookie contract. It’s currently unclear if the Cowboys would even re-sign him at the end of the season. Although all signs point the 25-year old being a bust, Lawrence himself still believes he can be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
"“A one-sack year? That’s not me,” Lawrence told the Star-Telegram recently. “I’ve already got that in my mind, you know, that I’m going to be the best. When my son grows up, I want him to say, ‘Man, my dad was a beast.’ The film don’t lie. I’ve just got to make sure I put it on the film now. …My goal is 10-plus sacks all the time. I feel like I can be a Pro Bowl player. I just haven’t lived up to those expectations dealing with the injuries and my personal issues.”"
If Lawrence truly can be this level of player, he likely has one more season in Dallas to prove it. And we’ve seen money motivate players before during a contract year. But until we see more from him on a consistent basis, I’m not sure DeMarcus Lawrence’s time with the Dallas Cowboys can be viewed as anything more than disappointing.