Over the last couple of years as DeMarcus Lawrence first became eligible to negotiate his first long-term contract, a debate raged of his worthiness to be paid one of the top contracts in the NFL among edge players (3-4 outside linebackers and 4-3 defensive ends).
Many felt that he wasn't on the same level as Khalil Mack or Von Miller as a pass rusher and therefore shouldn't get paid accordingly. There point was that Lawrence didn't rack up the sack numbers that those others have and that's true, but pass rushing effectiveness isn't merely based on sack totals, though they matter.
Well, according to Pro Football Focus' grading scale, only one player has been a better pass rusher since the start of 2017 than DeMarcus Lawrence. Since 2017, only Von Miller has a better passing rushing grade than DeMarcus Lawrence.
Lawrence is one of the more disruptive players in the NFL and the best player on the Dallas Cowboys defense. Here's what Anthony Treash from Pro Football Focus had to say about DeMarcus Lawrence.
"During the 2018 regular season, Lawrence put up an 89.5 overall grade (seventh), an 84.4 pass-rush grade (ninth), 44 defensive stops (fourth) and 63 total pressures (15th). And that astonishing two-year stretch has quite rightly catapulted him into the conversation for the NFL’s best young pass-rusher. Since 2017, Lawrence’s 91.4 pass-rush grade is the second-highest among edge defenders, trailing only Von Miller. Moreover, his 19.4% pass-rush win rate and 15.5% pressure rate in that timespan rank sixth and fifth among his position group, respectively."
Anthony Treash - Pro Football Focus
I've had several debates with folks who don't want to include DeMarcus Lawrence in the same tier of player as Khalil Mack or Von Miller, but he's right there with those guys.
The $21 million annual average salary that DeMarcus Lawrence signed for his the second largest per year contract among edge rushers. Only Khalil Mack is making more on a per year basis than Lawrence. In total guarantees, Lawrence sits only behind Mack and Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller.
Over the last two years, Lawrence has also been one of the best run defenders in the NFL. In 2018, among players with at least 202 run snaps, DeMarcus Lawrence finished second only to Calais Campbell in run stop percentage per Pro Football Focus. Lawrence made a run stop on 12.3% of his run snaps and was fourth in total stops.
Moving into 2019, Lawrence will be coming off of offseason shoulder surgery, but hopefully will be ready for the start of the season. Despite whatever numbers he finishes with at the end of the season, it won't be a full reflection of the impact he has on opposing offenses. Teams have to account for him on every play. The double teams he draws opens up opportunities for the rest of the defensive line and for blitzing players on rush downs. The effectiveness of which Lawrence plays the run makes it very difficult for teams to run wide to his side.
When the Dallas Cowboys moved up in the draft to select DeMarcus Lawrence, they had to wait several years for that risk to pay off. Now with Lawrence locked up for the next four years, the Cowboys will get the benefit of having one of the best pass rushers in the league through his prime years.
DeMarcus Lawrence's presence will keep the Dallas Cowboys defense as one of the best in the NFL for the next several years. And everyone with a star on his helmet will benefit greatly.
REPORT: Cowboys WR Michael Gallup Out 2-4 Weeks After Knee Surgery
Two games into a seeming breakout season, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Michael Gallup will now be out for the next 2-4 weeks after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He suffered the injury late into the Cowboys' victory over the Washington Redskins yesterday.
An MRI revealed the extent of the injury today. There were hopes that Gallup had only suffered a contusion, but unfortunately he will be out at least a couple of games after requiring this minor knee procedure.
Gallup is the team leader in catches (13) and receiving yards (226) after the first two weeks of the 2019 season.
Sources: #Cowboys promising WR Michael Gallup is having arthroscopic surgery to trim his meniscus, knocking him out 2-4 weeks. No structural damage besides the meniscus tear, so the return should be quick.
The Cowboys still have Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb as a strong starting duo. They also hope to get Tavon Austin back this week after he was inactive in Washington with concussion issues.
Gallup's absence could be big for Devin Smith, who had a 51-yard touchdown catch against the Redskins and should see more work in the coming weeks. It also may prompt Dallas to keep prospect Cedrick Wilson, just called up from the practice squad a week ago, on the 53-man roster a while longer.
Despite this depth, Michael Gallup will still be missed for however long he's out. Hopefully he can return on the quick side of the projection and keep his 2019 momentum going.
Dallas Cowboys Should Pursue Miami Dolphins’ Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick
Every year it seems one team decides pretty quickly to take on the mantel of "NFL Dumpster Fire." In 2019, the Miami Dolphins are so obviously in tank mode that it's become almost sad. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys have been the beneficiary of their sell-off as they were able to acquire Robert Quinn for the low-low price of a sixth-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
After trading away Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Britt just before the start of the regular season, Chris Mortenson of ESPN is reporting that the Miami Dolphins have told Defensive Back Minkah Fitzpatrick that he and his representatives can pursue a trade.
The Dolphins have granted permission to DB Minkah Fitzpatrick to seek a trade, according to multiple sources who say Miami's asking price is too high. Dolphins have no comment. Story coming with help from @CameronWolfe
Dolphins team official now tells @CameronWolfe they are not actively shopping Fitzpatrick but did not deny they have given agent Joel Segal permission to talk with other teams. Segal has been unavailable for comment but other NFL teams have confirmed contact. https://t.co/z3FCN3tyqL
It would appear that the Dolphins aren't actively shopping him, but the second report from Mortenson would indicate that they are willing to deal if the right offer came along.
Fitzpatrick has been a bit disgruntled since training camp, feeling like the Dolphins have been playing him out of position. He was a bit frustrated with the way the Dolphins opening week loss to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens went down.
After an excellent career at the University of Alabama, Fitzpatrick was selected 11th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his rookie season with the Dolphins, the former All-American recorded 80 total tackles, two tackles for loss, and two interceptions. He played in all 16 games and started 11 during his rookie season.
As a free safety, he could fit in really nicely with the versatile Xavier Woods who the Dallas Cowboys could deploy more as the box safety. Woods ability to play coverage and play the run would make him an ideal player to use to match up with tight ends or running backs in the passing game. With Fitzpatrick and Woods, the Dallas Cowboys would have two versatile and dynamic safeties to deploy in a variety of ways.
Source says Phins asking for a 1st for M Fitzpatrick but will likely settle for a 2nd.
If there's much of a market for Fitzpatrick, which there should be, it would likely take a first-round pick from the Cowboys to make this deal as Benjamin Allbright is reporting. However, if they were able to come up with a package that didn't include their first, that would obviously be much better.
I could fairly easily be talked into a first-round pick for Fitzpatrick. So, if the Dallas Cowboys could get him for a second-round pick or a second and a late-round pick, I'd do that in a heartbeat.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is only in the second year of his rookie contract, which would mean the Dallas Cowboys could have player control for three more seasons after 2019.
If the Dallas Cowboys are looking to make a deal, they shouldn't and probably wouldn't include any of their current defensive back depth. A team that has Super Bowl aspirations won't trade depth on the team, because that depth becomes extremely valuable in December, January, and hopefully February.
Like the Amari Cooper move, trading for Fitzpatrick who still has several more years of control would make a ton of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They wouldn't even have to make him a full-time player in 2019 and could just use him as a matchup piece before making him and Xavier Woods the primary safeties in 2020.
The Cowboys like their team, but they've shown a willingness to be opportunistic over the past year with the Amari Cooper and Robert Quinn trades. With the Miami Dolphins in sell mode, this could be an excellent opportunity for the Cowboys to take advantage and get a discounted rate on a potential star at safety. They've been very clear about what their goals are for this season.
As Stephen Jones says, the player acquisition business is a 365 day a year business. This is absolutely a player that they should inquire about and should seriously consider making a deal for. He's a playmaker that can help your secondary in 2019 and beyond.
Here's what Lance Zierlien of NFL.com had to say about Fitzpatrick during the lead up to the 2018 NFL Draft:
"Fitzpatrick played star early in 2016 and then moved to safety when senior Eddie Jackson was injured. The result? He led the team with six interceptions and 186 interception return yards, returning two more pick-sixes to set the school career record with four. He was named a first-team All-American by multiple outlets for his efforts (66 tackles, five TFL, seven pass break-ups). Fitzpatrick's New Jersey family home was damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011."
Lance Zierlien - NFL.com
Like Xavier Woods, Fitzpatrick has a stellar track record of making plays on the football. In the NFL where passing is becoming more and more frequent, you can never have too many guys that can create turnovers. Minkah Fitzpatrick makes the Dallas Cowboys better and could be the final piece to the defensive puzzle. If the price is right, the Dallas Cowboys should go get him.
Report: Dak Prescott Named NFC Offensive Player of the Week
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have asked for a better season debut than the one they got from their starting quarterback last Sunday. According to NFL.com Dak Prescott has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
He set a franchise record with 405 passing yards in a season opener. The accuracy he displayed spreading the ball to his top three receivers was impressive. He was 17 of 21 (80.9%) throwing the ball to Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb. Prescott was unbelievable on play-action completing 14 of 15 passes for 207 yards and 3 touchdowns. This performance was so good that he became one of only thirty quarterbacks in NFL history with a perfect passer rating (158.3) and only the fourth to achieve it with at least thirty attempts.
Prescott will be looking to continue his hot start versus the Washington Redskins on the road this Sunday, a team he is 5-1 against in his career. Can he win back to back NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards? We'll be watching.
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