After posting 3.5 sacks in two games, Dallas Cowboys’ defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is heading for a career season in a contract year.
When the Dallas Cowboys traded up in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they did so with the intent of trying to find a replacement for legendary defensive end DeMarcus Ware, the franchise’s all-time sack leader. With the 34th overall selection, the Cowboys chose Boise State pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence.
But Lawrence would end up spending half of his rookie season on the sidelines due to a foot injury. That slowed his development, although he showed promise in the postseason recording 2.0 sacks in his first two playoff games.
The following year, Dallas shifted Lawrence from right end to left, and the young man eventually flourished. Lawrence led the team with 8.0 sacks his second season with the Cowboys and looked to be well on his way to truly replacing Ware in Big D.
But offseason back surgery combined with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug abuse policy turned 2016 into a lost season for Lawrence. He would go on to post just 11 total tackles and 1.0 sack in nine game last year.
And things didn’t look much better this offseason, as the 25-year old was forced to have yet another back surgery. Going into the final year of his rookie contract in Dallas, it was unclear whether Dallas would even elect to re-sign Lawrence at season’s end.
But two games into the regular season, and Lawrence has racked up 3.5 sacks, currently the second highest sack total in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus, DeMarcus is the top edge rusher when it comes to pass rush productivity.
When asked about how his performance may be motivated by the fact he is in a contract year, how Lawrence responded will likely delight Cowboy fans everywhere.
"“I mean, it’s a contract year, so what? I want to be here forever,” Lawrence told the Dallas Morning News. “This year don’t define me as a player. Y’all might say it’s because it’s a contract year, but the first year I was balling. My second year I was balling. My third year I had trouble with my back, so it didn’t seem like I was there. This year doesn’t define me.”"
Lawrence went on to contribute his resurgence in Dallas to him being healthy, that the game is slowing down for him and to the fact he’s paying closer attention to the details.
Earlier this offseason, Dallas Cowboys’ owner and general manager Jerry Jones opined how his team needed a pass rushing “War Daddy”. It now appears the Cowboys already had one under their noses.