5 Things the Franchise Tag Means for DeMarcus Lawrence
The Cowboys are applying the Franchise Tag to defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence for the second consecutive year. What does the Franchise Tag mean for D-Law in 2019?
Lawrence Cannot Negotiate with Any Other NFL Team
The Cowboys and Lawrence are negotiating a long-term contract to keep the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end in Dallas. But the team and Lawrence couldn’t reach a deal before the March 5th deadline for the 2019 Franchise Tag. By applying the tag to Lawrence, the Cowboys keep him off the open market. Instead of being an unrestricted free agent that can negotiate with any NFL team, the Cowboys have until July 15, 2019 to complete a new contract.
Lawrence Gets at Least a 20% Pay Raise If He Signs His Franchise Tender
Franchise Tags are one-year guaranteed contracts. The salary is based on the average of the top-5 contracts in the NFL for a player’s position. Last year Lawrence played on the 2018 Franchise Tag for defensive end which was $17.148 million. But this year is different for Lawrence because, when a player is franchised for two consecutive years, he is guaranteed a 20% increase in salary. That means the Cowboys are guaranteeing him a 2019 salary of $20.56 million.
What If Lawrence and the Cowboys Can’t Work Out a Long-Term Deal Before July 15?
Lawrence does not have to sign his one-year deal before July 15th. Hopefully the Cowboys and D-Law agree to a new contract before that date. Why?
Because long-term contracts mean big signing bonuses and large guaranteed contracts. It means long-term security for Lawrence, not just one-year. What if he were playing on his 1-year contract in 2019 and suffered a career-ending injury? Players want long-term deals, not short term.
It’s also beneficial for teams to sign their superstars to long-term deals because the team can spread the financial hit over the length of the contract. If a player is signed to a 5-year deal that includes a $50 signing million bonus, the player gets the $50 million signing bonus right away, but the team can take the $50 million and divide it by 5 seasons ($10 million per season for 5 seasons).
Lawrence has until July 15 to sign his 2019 Franchise Tender, but he doesn’t have to sign it. He can sit out the 2019 season. That’s what Steelers superstar running back Le’Veon Bell did in 2018. Bell was unhappy with his one-year contract as the Steelers’ Franchise player, so he didn’t sign the deal and did not play last year. Bell was not allowed to play with any other team because he was under the Steelers’ Franchise tender.
Lawrence Is Not Expected to Take Part in Offseason Workouts Until He Gets a Long-Term Deal
Don’t look for Lawrence to workout with teammates at The Star until he gets a new long-term deal. Also, he has reportedly delayed his offseason shoulder surgery. Lawrence has said publicly that he does not intend to play 2019 under a second Franchise tender, and that includes offseason workouts and OTAs and minicamp and training camp.
Should Cowboys Fans Worry About Lawrence’s New Deal Getting Done Before July 15th?
The Cowboys have now applied the Franchise Tag seven times in their history (including Lawrence in 2018). In all previous instances, players were on the field by the time the season rolled around.
In 2015, the Cowboys applied the Franchise Tag on Dez Bryant; he and the team inked a multi-year deal that summer just before the deadline. Dez’s deal was for 5 years $70 million, including $45 million guaranteed. Lawrence’s deal will be worth more than Dez’s.
Pass rushers are the second-highest paid position group in the NFL, second only to quarterbacks. The going rate for the elite pass rushers is $20+ million per season. Lawrence is going to average over $20 million per season on a long-term deal, no doubt about it.
With Randy Gregory serving a suspension, there’s even more pressure on the Cowboys to keep Lawrence in the fold. An effective pass defense is predicated on pressuring the quarterback, and D-Law has proven to be among the best pass rushers in the business. The Cowboys can’t afford to NOT have Lawrence on the field in 2019; this team needs him.