Demarcus Lawrence and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a five year, $105 million deal with $65 million guaranteed over the first three years. David Canter, who is the agent for Lawrence went on the “The business of sports” podcast with Andrew Brandt to discuss how the deal got done, how close it came to not getting done, why this negotiation was different than any negotiation he has ever done and much more…
Why did Lawrence accept the tag the first time?
Canter: The first offer from the Cowboys was so bad and so low that we had no choice other than eat the tag and eat it fast.
Canter also mentions telling Lawrence that the Cowboys would never pay him off one year of production after coming off injuries in previous years and that Lawrence should just play under the tag and go from there. Lawrence was fully onboard.
Did Canter expect Lawrence to play under the tag again this upcoming season?
Canter: Yes. I had not spoken to the Cowboys since March of last year until March of this year regarding deal, despite seeing them several times in between. Canter says he was expecting the Cowboys to approach him in January before having to use the franchise tag for the second straight year.
Did the conversations ever get nasty between Canter and Jones?
Canter: Yes, at the combine while having drinks. Canter says he and Jones had very contentious conversations and the discussions got real nasty real quick over the value of the player. The Cowboys told Canter that Lawrence is not Von Miller or Khalil Mack so he’s not getting $20 million a year.
Canter says he and the Cowboys met the next day on the bus at the combine and those conversations were much friendlier and that he and Jones have a very strong, open relationship that normal friends have.
What makes negotiating with the Cowboys different?
Canter: This is David Canter, the player agent vs. a billion dollar owner of an NFL team and that changes the dynamic. Canter says that most times that they never talk to the owner, but in this case he only spoke with Stephen Jones.
Canter says that this negotiation was a very “cold, cut and dry and sputtering negotiation.”
Did Canter expect a deal to be done after being franchised twice?
Canter: Offers were so “not there” that I never envisioned we would get a deal done. I think our hold up was Khalil Mack because Mack had been the defensive player of the year, 5th overall pick, did not have any surgeries, had not been suspended and his seven year deal rolled in his fifth year option.
Did you guys expect to get more than Mack?
Canter: At no point, did we expect to get more than Mack from the Cowboys and the only way that would happen is if we got to the open market.
As Canter started facilitating trades, he mentioned that he thinks they had a team willing to pay Lawrence $24 million a year.
What happened on the phone call before the owners meeting?
Canter: When we made our offer of six years, $22 million a year with $80 million guaranteed, things got so nasty that Canter told Lawrence that he will either get traded at the owners meeting or they will have to let this thing play out, meaning that Lawrence would miss all the teams offseason activities, including training camp and would report the Saturday before Week 1 and could possibly start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
Canter says that it would never have been a Le’Veon Bell situation where Lawrence would have stayed away the entire season and missed out on $20 million for the 2019 season.
Does Lawrence need the surgery?
Canter: People made the surgery out to be bigger than it actually is. He needs the surgery done because the Cowboys want him to have the surgery, but he does not need it to play football. He played the entire season with the shoulder last season and had 10.5 sacks.
What led to the conference call the Thursday before the deal got done?
Canter: Lawrence started getting mad that his name was getting dragged through the mud based on reports being put out by the local media.
How did the conference call go?
Canter: It was as open of a conversation that I’ve ever had between ownership and a player. It was the Cowboys saying what did think about Lawrence and what they didn’t think about him but that they wanted him to be a Cowboy for many years to come. Lawrence was open, honest and passionate on that cal, as he always is.
Canter mentioned that he hung up the phone with the understanding that he would come off the 6 year proposal and put something together more in line of what the Cowboys were thinking on a five year deal.
At 10pm that night, Canter knew a deal would get done after the Cowboys came up from $19 million a season to $20 million a season.
How the deal almost fell apart the next day (the Friday the deal got done)
Canter: It was radio silence until 1:00pm that day and for the first time I exposed my numbers. We need $50 million over the first two years and $66 million over the first three years.
At 3:00pm, the Cowboys sent a proposal where things went backwards. The deal was $4-5 million less in real money. Canter called Lawrence and told him “I don’t know, bro. I thought it was getting done but what they just sent me isn’t even close.”
Canter says his first reaction was that he wasn’t even going to respond to Stephen but instead he sent a text to Stephen that got no response but Stephen called seven minutes later and that’s when the numbers became final, $48 million over the first two years and $65 over the first three.
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