Dallas Cowboys use franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence

DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have used the franchise tag in order to secure more time to sign defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal.

The Dallas Cowboys never had any intentions of letting defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence hit the free agency market when it opens later this month. The four-year pass rusher was simply too valuable. And in a free agent class desperately missing premier edge rushers, Lawrence figured to earn himself top dollar.

But now, the 25-year old will be paid a king’s ransom to remain in Dallas. That amount being $17.143 million this year, if the tag remains. But that’s certainly not in the Cowboys plans, as they’d likely prefer to ink Lawrence to a long-term deal. Using the franchise tag gives Dallas until July 16th in order to get a new contract done.

Originally a second round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Lawrence’s first three seasons in Dallas were fraught with injuries, a drug suspension and inconsistent play. His rookie season was cut in half due to a foot injury. Between his first and second season, Dallas shifted Lawrence from right defensive end to left. After an adjustment period, the sophomore defender started to shine recording 7.0 sacks in the final eight games of 2015.

With so much promise heading into his third season in Dallas, Lawrence shockingly took a nosedive. It started with a four-game suspension for substance abuse. And the disappointment continued as offseason back surgery limited Lawrence to recording 11 total tackles and a single sack in nine games.

Entering 2017, expectations were low for Lawrence in the final year of his rookie deal. The young defensive end had another back surgery that offseason and was coming off the worst performance of his short professional career. But to everyone’s surprise Lawrence exploded last season to record 58 total tackles, 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. That sack total was tied for second most in the NFL.

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Now that DeMarcus Lawrence’s immediate future has been secured in Dallas, the next step would be getting him signed to a long-term deal in order for the Cowboys to have a bit more financial flexibility moving forward. But following three seasons of inconsistent play and two offseason back surgeries, the pressure is on Lawrence to prove he was more than a one-year wonder in 2017.