Will the Dallas Cowboys use their franchise tag in 2019?

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

With few true candidates to choose from and a history of declining the option, will the Dallas Cowboys use the franchise tag in 2019?

Just two days ago, the 2018 officially ended as Super Bowl LIII commenced in Atlanta, Georgia. For the Dallas Cowboys, it is now time to concern themselves with the business of the 2019 season.

The first order of that business is to decide whether or not to use the franchise tag. Dallas has between February 19th and March 5th to make this decision.

Since this option was introduced in 1993, the Dallas Cowboys have used it just seven times. The first time was in 2000 to lock up safety Ken Hamlin for one year. Two years later, it was offensive tackle Flozell Adams‘ turn.

It would be another decade before Dallas did so, franchising linebacker Anthony Spencer in back-to-back seasons in 2012 & 2013. Receiver Dez Bryant got his tag in 2015 but signed a long-term deal before the season started.

Last, but not least, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence received the tag last season. The Cowboys have fifteen potential players in which they could use the tag on. Most make no sense to even discuss. The one player who does is Lawrence.

Since 2012, here is what the franchise tag for a defensive end has cost the team using it.

2012 – $10.6M
2013 – $11.2M
2014 – $13.1M
2015 – $14.8M
2016 – $15.7M
2017 – $16.9M
2018 – $17.1M

With yet another rise in the salary cap, it’s a good bet the 2019 number will be somewhere between $18.3 and $18.8M. That is fully guaranteed money.

While it is great for the player in the short term, it generally sours them if they get tagged twice in a row. Look no further than the Le’Veon Bell saga in Pittsburgh this season.

Not only did Bell not sign his second tag, he sat out the entire year and is now all but certainly going to play elsewhere in 2019.

The Dallas Cowboys cannot afford this same fate with Lawrence. There are not a lot of 27-year old pass rushers in the NFL with 30+ career sacks.

Lawrence earned his $17.1M by putting up a monster year in 2017. Under the tag, he delivered another great year and is unquestionably one of the main leaders on this team.

Using the tag would also hurt the Cowboys from a salary cap stand point. Having $18M earmarked for one player would limit any free agent shopping or other extensions they might want to do this offseason.

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The franchise tag is a great weapon to have. Last year, it was beneficial to both the team and the player. A second tag on the same player would be neither.

For those reasons, it’s imperative that the Dallas Cowboys find a way to negotiate a long-term deal for Lawrence and pass on using the franchise tag in 2019.