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DeMarcus Lawrence Refuses Pay Cut; What’s Next?

has reportedly refused to take a pay cut on his contract with the Cowboys. Where does this leave the former Pro Bowler and the organization as Dallas tries to deal with his $27 million hit in 2022?

After putting up 24 from 2017-2018 Lawrence has only had 14.5 sacks over the last three seasons. A broken foot cost him 10 games in 2021 and exacerbated the issue, but even with those games back DeMarcus would still clearly not be as productive a pass rusher as his seasons.

While still an elite run defender and consistently able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, Tank's paid like a premiere sack artist and the Cowboys aren't entirely unreasonable to ask for some relief on his contract. He's tied with New York's as the second-highest paid defensive end in football, trailing only Cleveland's Myles Garrett.

But now that Lawrence has declined to help the Cowboys reduce his cap number in 2022, where does that leave Dallas?

The Cowboys could next look to restructure DeMarcus' deal, reducing his $19 million base salary and creating about $12 million in cap space. But this would push dead money into the later years of the contract and make Lawrence, who turns 30 next month, even harder to down the road.

A seems unlikely; hard to imagine a team willing to take on that $19 million salary for a guy who isn't posting elite sack numbers. If Tank was still that guy then we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

If the Cowboys decide to make Lawrence a cap casualty now then they gain $8 million in relief. They could also go with the June-1st option and create $19 million in cap space this year but then deferring $11 million in dead money onto the 2023 salary cap.

Remember, the June-1st option always sounds nicer than it is. That money isn't available from March-May to sign or conduct other business, meaning you better have a big contract re- or something else in the works for the summer to make it worth doing.

Complicating matters further is that the defensive end position is already in upheaval with and about to become unrestricted free agents. Releasing Lawrence would leave only and as meaningful players from last season.

Without question, the Cowboys need to create cap space this . But they also need talented players to compete in 2022. Much like the discussion with at WR, there's grave concern that Dallas is ultimately weakening the roster in its pursuit for financial flexibility.

With only about a week left before begins, the futures of DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, and others should soon be realized. Dallas would clearly like to keep Lawrence by offering the pay cut, but now we'll see just how much they still value him.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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The Boys are going nowhere with Dak at QB anyway. Cut as much bait as you can this year and next and set the team up for a rebuild. They had their shot at it last year and crapped themselves badly in the playoffs. I am not for pushing money to later years to bank on this current team. It has too many holes to fill and no money to do it with. Might as well take the lumps now.


I say it’s time to show him the door then because he hasn’t played up to his contract one time


Okay, not living up to his contract? Why don’t you ask Dan Quinn about that. Obviously some folks don’t watch much film if any. He outperformed his first contract and played with a severe tear in his shoulder for two years that required surgery. And was rewarded with the franchise tag for two straight years. Clearly the best defender on this team until Parsons came along. He was rated the second highest run defender in the league and can still bring it as a pass rusher. But that’s not what they ask him to do. He takes on double teams against the run and the pass to free up other’s such as Parsons 13 sacks and Robert Quinn’s 11 plus sacks. Going back to Quinn, he’s stated that Tank is the most violent defender on this squad. Meaning he is physical beyond belief. Do y’all realize we got run over in every game that we lost this year? this defense’ weakness is against the run and it clearly showed up in the last two playoff game losses. You don’t even have to watch film to see that. Just watch both of those games. Keep drinking that Steven Jones Kool Aide about the salary cap and underperforming players. If Tank doesn’t get his money here another team will gladly pay him what he is worth.

Jeff Tuggle

This is not complicated. Many reasons for it but he needs to go. The Jones consistently overpay into the future. Got to stop here.

gary b

Since we’re tied into Dak for the for seeable future, we need to build up the DL and OL which is our weakness. Teams just outmuscled us this year and imposed their will on us. Forget about the skill players for now. We need some DOGS.


Yeah, it’s getting to the point where they need to ask themselves if they just want to putter along, bleeding promising young talent because they have so much cap tied up in underperforming or declining players. Or, do they want to purge and retool, even though it means a couple of down seasons?

McCarthy doesn’t seem to be long for the HC job.
Dak is way over paid, but untouchable.
Zeke is in decline, but they can move on after this season.
DLaw hasn’t lived up to the contract, but they are already thin. If they decide to purge and retool, he’s a definite candidate for purge.
Cooper is likely already gone.
Tyron is still very good…when healthy. But, he’s definitely declining, and I wonder how long until he retires.
Zack is still elite, but for how much longer? He’s getting dinged up more and more often. He’s a keeper, but they need to have a plan in place for his eventual replacement.
La’el needs to move to LG and let Steele take over RT. But, he’s an easy purge after this season.

Then, they have all of the re-signings they’ll need to do:
Need to haves:
Lamb (2024) 5th year available
Steele (2023)
Gallimore (2024)
Diggs (2024)
Donovan Wilson (2023)

Should they re-sign:
Pollard (2023)?
McKeon (2023)?
McGovern (2023)?
Basham (2023)?
Trysten Hill (2023)?
Anthony Brown (2023)?
Biadasz (2024)?
Jourdan Lewis (2024)?
Robinson (2024)?

That doesn’t even address the current gaping holes at FS, WR not named Lamb, TE, RDE, and LB not named Parsons (and Jabril Cox if he recovers and performs well).

I’m seriously leaning towards punting on this season, purging as much salary as possible, and retooling under a new HC and OC in 2023.

gary b

The purging and rebuilding approach sure seems appealing about now. But jerry doesn’t seem the the type to do that. He always wants to maintain the illusion that the cowboys are contenders every year. From a purely business standpoint it makes sense, but jerry looks at things differently then most GMs. It’s about appearances for him and he bases too many decisions on his gut and emotions.

Case to be made for this group not being the one that can get the job done. Purging Elliott/Lawrence/Cooper sure would free up alot of space to bring some new blood in. I think cowboys fans are ready for that, even it means one step back, with the hopes we can take more steps forward.


Lawrence along with Cooper and Elliott are being paid twice their production.
They are good players . But, every good player cannot be overpaid just because they are Cowboys.


I really like his run defense, but 14.5 sacks in three years kind of speaks for itself. I didn’t realize he is the second highest paid DE in the league. Bad ROI. As is the case with many other players at key positions.

I would NOT be opposed to a purge and rebuild at this time. And as Todd commented, we are going nowhere with DP anyway. It looks like he hit his ceiling and that ceiling seems to be getting lowered somehow.

Amazing how every year this team gets OVERHYPED from the sports MSM. I guess it’s something about that Star on the helmet, as well as that great PAST winning history.

BTW, where are all the DP lovers that were screaming “PAY THE MAN”?


Who hands out these lousy contacts because he gets backed into a corner? They just franchised Dalton Shultz!! He’s an average soft non blocking Big WR posing as a TE. Exactly what they did with Tank. They over played their hand and screwed up yet again. Yet, y’all get on here and pile on to that narrative of vilifying players for 25 plus years of ownership failures

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