If the Dallas Cowboys want to get Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence signed to a long-term deal, they have just two weeks left to make it happen. Otherwise, Lawrence will play 2018 on the one-year franchise tag and potentially become a free agent again.
Dallas has until 4:00 pm EST on Monday, July 16th to work out a new contract with DeMarcus. That is the NFL's mandated deadline for teams to negotiate long-term deals with their franchise-tagged players.
Once the deadline passes, all tagged players are only able to sign one-year contracts with their existing team. They will not be able to sign any sort of new contract until after the regular season.
If he remains on his franchise tag salary, Lawrence will count $17.1 million against the Cowboys' cap in 2018.
DeMarcus earned the franchise tag this offseason thanks to a breakout 14.5 sacks in 2017. It was widely assumed that the tag was simply to secure Lawrence during the offseason until a long-term contract could be agreed on.
But with DeMarcus only having the one great season out of four in the NFL, perhaps the Cowboys are leery of giving him a long-term commitment at top dollar. Maybe Dallas wants to see if he can keep up the production, and stay healthy, for a season year.
The Cowboys could opt to franchise Lawrence again in 2019, but that would raise the capt hit to $20 million that year. With possible new contracts coming for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas won't want that much cap tied up in anyone who doesn't play quarterback.
It was only about two weeks ago that the Cowboys finalized the new long-term deal for Guard Zack Martin, so perhaps they just needed to get that one out of the way first. With minicamp over and no major business taking place between now and July's training camp, Dallas should be able to make re-signing Lawrence its top priority.
The deadline will help to spur things along, provided both parties are wanting to get the deal done. It's rare that money stay an issue between players of DeMarcus' caliber and the Cowboys organization.
But the clock is definitely ticking. Dallas can afford to keep Lawrence on the franchise tag this year if they must, but it means potentially being back in this same spot next year.
And if DeMarcus has another Pro Bowl season, the negotiations are only going to get tougher.