Coach’s Corner: Rod Marinelli Salutes Pro Bowl Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence
DeMarcus Lawrence was rewarded at the end of his 2017 breakout season with his first Pro Bowl selection. His stellar campaign was no surprise to his position coach, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli who pulls double-duty as the Cowboys’ defensive line coach.
Marinelli was effusive in his praise for Lawrence’s production this season which went well beyond a team-leading 14 ½ sacks.
“The numbers are great, but it’s all the other stuff,” notes Marinelli. “He plays the run really well. He’s been a dominant player this season and I’m glad to see other people notice that. You guys have watched him relentlessly going sideline-to-sideline.
“You watch other players in the league, and they don’t play like that. His effort energizes the rest of the guys. They don’t want to look bad getting passed-up by him. He embodies the standard of what we want by the physical way that he plays his position.”
Lawrence was strong out of the gates in 2017. The former 2nd round pick recorded a sack in 7-straight games to start the season including 6 ½ in the first three weeks. He became the first Cowboys’ defender since Jason Hatcher to reach double-digit sacks in a season. In 16 starts, he also totaled 58 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.
“It’s been a buildup through his career, and that’s what you love to see with a young player that you draft,” Marinelli says proudly. “He kind of capped it off this year. It’s been a process and he’s built every year. Man, it’s exciting. And, like I said, look beyond the statistics and the numbers. It’s all about how hard he plays and the passion he plays with. He’s relentless. He reflects our system, like Sean Lee, they reflect our system with how hard they play.”
Lawrence, who just finished his fourth NFL season, is now an unrestricted free agent who is expected to reap a financial windfall following his stellar season. Elite pass rushers are paid elite money.
If the Cowboys are unable to re-sign him to a new long-term contract, they could place the Franchise Tag on him for the 2018 season. Quarterbacks are the only players that have a higher Franchise Tag amount than defensive ends. The Franchise Tag for those two positions in 2017 were $21.58 million for quarterbacks and $16.988 million for defensive ends. The projected amount in 2018 for defensive end is $19.038 million.
Lawrence played his first four seasons under his original rookie contract signed in 2014. His first four years he totaled $5.5 million. His 2017 base salary was $1.17 million. He counted $1.752 million versus the 2017 salary cap, the 24th highest amount on the Cowboys’ roster, less than backup players Taco Charlton, Benson Mayowa, Byron Bell, and James Hanna.