After an uninspiring start, the Dallas Cowboys need their highest-paid defender to step up
On April 5, 2019, the Dallas Cowboys signed defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a five-year $105 million contract with $65 million guaranteed. Lawrence was coming off a 10.5 sack season in 2019 and a 14.5 sack season the year before in 2018.
Lawrence had made a name for himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the league and became the team’s first dominant pass-rusher since DeMarcus Ware, who left Dallas to sign with the Denver Broncos in 2014.
Since becoming the Cowboy’s highest-paid defender, Lawrence’s statistical production has felt a significant drop-off. Lawrence went from 60 total tackles and 10.5 sacks in 2018 to 44 total tackles and 5.0 sacks in 2019. Lawrence watched as his former teammate and opposite edge rusher Robert Quinn led the Cowboys in sacks with 11.5 sacks despite missing two games.
The argument can be made that DeMarcus Lawrence takes the bulk of attention from the opposing offensive line, allowing his teammates on the defensive line more opportunities than himself.
Despite this, in the 2019 offseason, Lawrence ensured fans he would get more sacks in 2020. During an interview on Fox Sports 1′s “Speak for Yourself” back in May, the veteran pass rusher assured fans his sack numbers would be back up this season.
Through four games in the 2020 season, DeMarcus Lawrence has failed to deliver on this promise
Through the first four weeks of the current NFL season, Lawrence has been close to invisible on the stat sheet. Despite playing 143 snaps on the defensive side of the ball, he has 11 total tackles, 0.0 sacks, 0 QB hits, and 0 forced fumbles. Meanwhile on the other side of the defensive line, defensive end Aldon Smith is off to a blazing start with 21 total tackles, 4.0 sacks, and 7 QB hits.
Lawrence still has positive effects throughout the games despite his lack of pass-rush. He is a good run-supporter and does require much attention from the opposing offensive lines.
However, DeMarcus Lawrence is paid like an elite pass-rusher with a yearly salary of $21 million and has recorded only 2.5 sacks in his last 16 games. If the Dallas Cowboys hope to turn around their defensive struggles, they need more of an impact from their defensive leader.