5 Things to Know About DeMarcus Lawrence’s Franchise Tag and How It Affects the Salary Cap

by | Mar 6, 2018 | Articles, The Team

The good news for Cowboys Nation is that DeMarcus Lawrence has signed his Franchise Tender which means he will spend the 2018 season wearing a star on his helmet and continuing to harass opposing quarterbacks.  But what does the Franchise Tag mean for Lawrence and the Cowboys moving forward? 

Here are 5 Things to Know About DeMarcus Lawrence’s Franchise Tag:

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It’s a Guaranteed 1-Year Deal with a Chance to Become Much More

The Cowboys placed the Franchise Tender on Lawrence on Monday afternoon, February 6th, just 24 hours before the deadline to tag a player.  As soon as he signed the tender in the afternoon, his 1-year contract for $17.145 million for the 2018 season became guaranteed.

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The Cowboys Can Still Sign Lawrence to a Long-Year Deal

The Cowboys and Lawrence have until July 16th to work out a long-term contract, otherwise he will play on the one-year tender.

Players prefer long-term contracts with large signing bonuses and greater security, of course. But Lawrence and his agent can play his current contract a couple of ways:  they can work with the Cowboys this offseason to secure a long-term deal, or they can have Lawrence play the 2018 season on the one-year deal and hope to cash-in with an even higher amount next year.

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Lawrence Plays Defensive End, the Second-Highest Paid Position in the NFL

There is definitely a pay gap in the NFL, depending on which position you play.  The amount of a Franchise Tag is determined by the average of the 5 highest salaries at your position.  Quarterbacks get paid the most; their franchise tag amount for 2018 is $23.189 million.  Lawrence and the defensive ends are second at $17.143 million.  If you’re curious, the rest of the Top 5 Paid Positions are:  Wide Receiver ($15.982m), Cornerback ($14.975m), and Linebacker ($14.961m).


The Cowboys Have Set Aside $17.145 Million of the $177.2+ in Salary Cap Space

NFL owners are meeting in Palm Springs, Florida this week.

Aaron M. Sprecher via AP Images

They were told Monday that the 2018 NFL Salary Cap has been set at $177.2 million.  That’s an increase of just over $10 million from 2017 when it was $167 million.  The cap has gone up more than $10 million each of the past five seasons.  Also, the Cowboys have a carry-over from last year’s cap ($7.8 million in unused space in 2017) to apply to their 2018 cap.  Lawrence is now guaranteed $17.145 million of that space, but it could change if the Cowboys sign him to long-term deal and pay big bonuses to lower his cap hit in 2018.


With Lawrence in Place for 2018, Attention Now Goes to New Deals for Zack Martin and Free Agents

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With the cap space set aside for Lawrence, Jerry & Stephen Jones can now work on finalizing a long-term contract extension for All Pro right guard Zack Martin.  They also can sign free agents beginning March 14th.  Anthony Hitchens, the starting middle linebacker last season and one of the most productive players on the Cowboys defense each of the past four seasons, will be a priority.  Hitchens is an unrestricted free agent who can sign with any team, but the Cowboys would love to keep him in Dallas.