The Cowboys should explore re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, but they can’t afford to make a massive offer to their talented defensive end.
The cost of securing a dominant pass rusher in the NFL is constantly on the rise. That’s why it’s understandable that the Cowboys want to lock up DeMarcus Lawrence with a new contract. Unfortunately, signing him for big money carries a lot of risk for America’s Team.
The Athletic is reporting that Cowboys officials are due to talk with Lawrence’s representatives next week. The talented edge rusher quickly signed his franchise tag offer from the team but expressed his hope to “break the bank” next year in free agency. It’s widely believed he’s willing to commit his future to the Cowboys, but it certainly won’t be a cheap deal.
Specifically, Lawrence wants a five-year contract that will put his earnings on par with the likes of Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney. At his best, Lawrence can logically make the argument he is just as productive as those stars. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a strong record of staying healthy.
The fact that he’s missed time due to back injuries twice in his young four-year career should be a major red flag for the Cowboys. That’s not the sort of injury that you want to see in a young player. Back issues tend to flare up more and more over a player’s career. Signing him to a five-year contract would force Dallas to pay Lawrence big money into his age-30 season. His injury history might make that a really ugly deal when it expires.
On the other hand, letting Lawrence leave could also have disastrous consequences for the Cowboys defense. He’s currently the best pass rusher on the roster by a pretty wide margin. We are talking about a player who notched 14.5 sacks last season. The team may have high hopes for some of their other young defensive lineman, but no one produced the results Lawrence did last year.
The right path forward for the Cowboys will be to hand Lawrence a deal that gives him the opportunity to earn big money if he hits certain playing time and performance-based incentives. That sort of deal will allow Lawrence to claim he’s getting paid like a superstar. More importantly for the Cowboys, it will prevent them from being stuck paying an injured player superstar money. There’s a middle ground in these contract negotiations, but it’s going to be difficult for both sides to find it.