The biggest red flag in the Dallas Cowboys offseason is now gone. Finally, the team has signed DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal after placing the franchise tag on him earlier this year. Lawrence had a breakout season in 2017 and was asked to prove he was real in 2018. He did just that. A year later, he had to break the bank, as he threatened he would do before agreeing to play under the tag last season.
Per multiple reports, the Cowboys are signing Lawrence to a five-year deal worth $105M. It seems like both parties met in the middle as D-Law will average 21 million per year. To put it in perspective, this will make him the third highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Only Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald will be above him in this category.
The Cowboys have agreed to a five year, $105 million deal with DeMarcus Lawrence that includes $65 million guaranteed according to a source.
This is serious money we’re talking about here. This is the kind of contract that really demands 10-sack seasons. Lawrence had 14.5 and 10.5 in the last couple of seasons. Now that he’ll be working alongside Robert Quinn, Lawrence will probably keep this up. He has to.
Being the enormous extension that it is, many fans will second-guess the decision. Is any player worth spending that much money on? Usually, the answer is no. You have to talking about someone pretty special to justify this kind of signings.
But don’t worry. DeMarcus Lawrence is really, really special.
Lawrence wanted to be paid like Khalil Mack and Von Miller for a reason. Because he’s actually produced at that level. He’s probably not the best pass rusher in the league, but he’s among the best. Not only that, but he might actually be the best at his position against the run.
Take a look at this great graph by @CowboysStats. “Playmaking EPA” is a metric that goes beyond regular stats and measures plays that reduce the opponent’s chances of scoring.
@john9williams @SportsSturm Here’s a simple visualization. It breaks down Lawrence’s playmaking EPA against the run and the pass, and compares him to every edge defender who was ranked higher than Lawrence at the time on the sack leaderboards. He’s in the highest tier.
In the above tweet, you can see how Lawrence separates himself from the rest of the edge rushers in the NFL when defending the run. When we think about pass rushers, we sometimes only think about how many sacks the player has. Lawrence is a very complete defender, though. His impact in the running game can’t be ignored.
But don’t worry. If you like counting sacks, rest assured DeMarcus Lawrence had more than both Mack and Miller in the last two seasons.
Injuries kept Lawrence off the field at the beginning of his career but he’s played 32 out of his last 32 possible regular season games and he’s only 26 years old. His future is bright. Simply put, D-Law is a game changer. Any NFL team would be extremely happy to have him on their team but no QB in the league will be happy to see him line up across him.