The Dallas Cowboys were a game away from making the playoffs. 2017 was still a disappointment for this team. They have needs entering this offseason.
Entering the 2017 season, the perception around the Dallas Cowboys was that they were Super Bowl contenders. They just came off a 13-3 season in 2016 with a second year player and Pro Bowlers at running back and quarterback. Unfortunately the suspension sage surrounding Ezekiel Elliott derailed the majority of this season. Injuries to Tyron Smith and others did not help. Regression occurred throughout the roster and the team fell to 9-7. Now they can look to the offseason to bounce back.
This team has needs, despite strong pieces in places on both sides of the ball. These are the top five that the Cowboys must address entering the 2018 season.
5. Retain DeMarcus Lawrence
The Dallas Cowboys struggled getting to the pass rusher for what felt like years. They continued to spend high draft picks on players, most of which did not pan out. In the 2017 draft they spent their first-round pick on an edge rusher in Taco Charlton. Luckily for them, one of their former second-round picks busted out this past season. Lawrence had a career year, finishing second in the NFL in sacks. He now is set to entered free agency, and the Cowboys can not let him leave.
One of the most important pieces on a defense is the pass-rushing spot. To have a talented player, at only 26 years old when the season starts, is worth almost any price. That is what Lawrence is for this team.
If the team and Lawrence cannot agree to terms than Dallas will be forced to use the franchise tag. That actually may be the ideal option. Lawrence posted career highs in almost every metric, including 14 sacks. His two previous seasons he only recorded nine. The possibility is there that this was a flash in the pan season from a guy entering a contract year.
The tag may cost about $18 million for defensive ends. That will allow Dallas to see if Lawrence continues that production without committing long-term. If he proves that he is now a double-digit sack guy moving forward, than that will be worth it. If his season was not who he is going forward than they can negotiate from a position more of strength than this upcoming offseason.