By: Greg Lehr @greglehr3
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly agreed to terms with star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on a five-year contract worth $105 million, including $65 million guaranteed.
The lengthy negotiation process appeared to take a turn in the wrong direction after Dallas placed the franchise tag (worth $20.5 million) on the two-time Pro Bowl end for a second year in a row at the March deadline. As recent as a week ago, Stephen Jones addressed the lack of progress on a new deal, even admitting the two sides were at “an impasse” in negotiations.
Instead, once Lawrence signs his deal, he will vault to the top of all defensive players in terms of guaranteed money. Additionally, the $21 million annually ranks second to only Khalil Mack for edge rushers (another nice couple of wins for Lawrence), not to mention the $31 million for the first year is the most ever for a non-QB.
Certainly both the team and the player wanted to get a deal done prior to the start of the official offseason program, but one underlying motivator for both sides was a looming shoulder surgery and recovery for Lawrence. This was presumably put off up to this point as a subtle negotiating tactic by his agent David Canter (DEC Management), as recovery from the surgery could have held Lawrence out for the start of the season if a deal wasn’t reached. For someone who has produced back to back double-digit sack seasons the last two years, this was an important part of the process
In terms of other upcoming contract extensions, Dallas can now turn their attention to the likes of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, and Ezekiel Elliott.
On the field, the Cowboys defensive line suddenly looks much better after retaining Lawrence and acquiring DE Robert Quinn (trade), who will be the favorite to start opposite of Lawrence due to Randy Gregory’s suspension. This doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of Dallas looking at an edge rusher in the upcoming NFL Draft, but it is certainly much less of a priority than before these two recent moves.
Keep an eye out for a full Dallas Cowboys draft preview (plus all other 31 NFL teams) leading up the the NFL Draft on Blitzalytics.com.