Earlier this week, the Dallas Cowboys franchised pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence for the second consecutive season. His cap hit for 2019 is going to be $20 million. It had been reported that the Cowboys told Lawrence and his representatives that they would not use the franchise tag on him again.
Lawrence isn’t happy with the franchise tag and is not expected to report to any of the teams offseason activities unless a deal is reached. The Cowboys have until July 15th to work out a long term deal. Over the past five years, roughly half of the franchised tagged players have agreed to such deals, including Dez Bryant with the Cowboys before the 2015 season.
However, this particular situation can’t be compared to the other franchise tag situations around the league. The reason being, Lawrence is putting off his surgery on his torn labrum until a deal is reached. The recovery time is 3-4 months, so if the Cowboys wait until July 15th under their “deadlines make deals” policy, they will be without Lawrence until October or November.
With that being said, what should the Cowboys do?
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones told reporters at the combine that the two sides had some productive talks and that Lawrence is a “significant part of the now and the future.”
There has been nothing reported as far as what Lawrence is looking for with his new deal, but it is expected to be near Khalil Mack territory. Mack signed a six-year, $141 million contract extension before the 2018 season. That deal included $90 million in guarantees with $60 million guaranteed at the signing.
The NFL works with a “next man up” type policy when it comes to contracts, meaning the next guy in line for a new contract expects more than the previous guy.
I don’t blame the Cowboys for trying to avoid having to go there and I believe that the Cowboys should make their best offer before the draft starts on April 25th and if he declines, they should look to trade him.
Obviously, that’s not the popular opinion but at that point Lawrence most likely signs his franchise tag at some point before November (the deadline for players to sign the franchise tag and get paid for that season) and collects his $20 million and gets paid to recover from the surgery and hits the open market next offseason and at that point, the bridge as been burned between the team and Lawrence.
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