After avoiding a potentially ugly holdout by signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long term contract extension, the Dallas Cowboys can now continue building a potential long term contender.
We won’t have a Le’Veon Bell-type situation in Dallas this year now that Demarcus Lawrence got paid. The Dallas Cowboys took care of their best pass rusher, signing Lawrence to a five-year contract north of $100 million according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Lawrence received $65 million guaranteed as part of this contract and will get more cash than any non-quarterback in the first year of the deal. That could impact the market for edge rushers who haven’t signed their franchise tenders yet, such as Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney, but that isn’t much of a concern for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are tight against the cap right now, carrying about only $6 million in cap space right now, but this extension means they should be able to lower Lawrence’s current cap hit of $20.6 million through creative structuring. This should help the Cowboys free up money to sign their draft picks and possibly add a few depth pieces around the roster, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Taking care of Lawrence’s cap situation is also important for the Cowboys because they have long term financial clarity with their best defender. Dallas is going to have to start addressing extensions for their three offensive stars (Dan Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper), so resolving Lawrence’s deal first sets the stage for talks to begin on other fronts.
By front-loading their guarantees to Lawrence, the Cowboys have made it easier on themselves to keep the core of their roster together for the next five years. Dallas hasn’t advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs since the mid-’90s, but they appeared poised to do so a year ago before falling to the Los Angeles Rams.
This contract not only keeps Lawrence happy and ensures he comes to camp on time, but it is huge for Dallas to get some cost certainty ahead of negotiations with their other stars. The deal ended up being a true win-win for both sides.