The Dallas Cowboys are not about to lose star pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence to free agency. To that end, they will reportedly use the franchise tag to lock him up before free agency begins, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, with the understanding that the goal is to reach a long-term deal.
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) February 19, 2018
This move will cost Dallas $17 million (roughly) against the cap, if no long-term deal can be worked out.
It’s a bit of a tricky situation, because although Lawrence did have a monster season last year (14.5 sacks) he has some red flags that could make doing a long-term deal difficult. For one, Lawrence has already had two back surgeries performed, so his health is certainly a concern. Secondly, Lawrence has already been suspended once in his career for failing a drug test.
So, while the “understanding” is that a long-term deal is the goal, the truth of the matter is Dallas might be better off seeing if Lawrence’s 2017 season was for real, rather than forking over a ton of guaranteed cash on a bigger contract.