The Dallas Cowboys and Demarcus Lawrence have reached an offseason impasse yet again this year and the Cowboys are planning to tag the star defensive end for the second year in a row according to multiple reports.
Any hope of a new deal being done before the March 5 deadline to franchise tag players went out the window pretty quickly at the combine, as the general understanding in Indianapolis was that the two sides weren't close on a deal.
Lawrence would be the crown jewel of the free-agent class if he were allowed to hit the market, but the Cowboys were never going to let that happen. Dallas just lost David Irving is an unrestricted free agent (who also is facing a suspension). , because it gives the team an extension until July 15 to work out a long-term contract.and
But there are a number of different problems when it comes to this negotiation.
For starters, Lawrence already played one full season in his prime on the franchise tag. Cowboys VP Stephen Jones explained at the combine the team knows it needs to reward Lawrence for doing so. Playing another season on a one-year deal would be pretty risky on Lawrence's part. The upside is hitting free agency in his prime completely unrestricted -- the Cowboys can't afford to give him a 44 percent raise next season on a one-year deal; he wouldn't sign a long-term contract at that point either -- but the downside is having a bad season or, worse, getting hurt. There seems to be an unwritten belief from Lawrence's side that the Cowboys would take care of him.
Secondly, the numbers just aren't working out for the two parties right now. The Cowboys would love to try and give Lawrence something that resembles the 4-3 defensive end market. Chandler Jones makes $16.5 million per year, while Melvin Ingram makes $16 million per year. But the edge rusher market is different: Olivier Vernon (now a 3-4 outside linebacker in the Giants new scheme, one who might be traded, and one who has the same rep as Lawrence) makes $17 million a year, Von Miller makes more than $19 million a year and Khalil Mack makes $23.5 million per year. The answer for what Lawrence's reps is somewhere in between Miller and Mack and it might be tough for the Cowboys to pony up that much per year.
Lawrence will make north of $50 million over the next two years on single-year deals if the Cowboys chose to keep tagging him. That means any contract starts with that much guaranteed. Considering Lawrence has 24.5 sacks in his last two years and won't even turn 27 until April, you better believe he is going to be looking for much more money than just the $50 million guaranteed. $21 million per year with $80 million guaranteed in the first three years is probably a lot more accurate in terms of what he wants to earn. And that might be on the low end because of his situation.
There is now plenty more time for the two sides to work out a deal, but the reality is that Lawrence already paid his dues when it comes to the franchise tag and he is unlikely to actively report for duty on a second tag in the wake of the Cowboys failing to meet his contract demands.