DeMarcus Lawrence was among the leagues best pass rushers a season ago for the Dallas Cowboys, producing 14.5 sacks to finish third in the league to Chandler Jones and Calais Campbell. With Campbell's career output coming in his tenth season and Jones leading the league in sacks as a six-year veteran, Lawrence's outburst in the final year of his rookie contract provides plenty of optimism for his future in Dallas -- despite it being long-awaited from the Cowboys.
Lawrence will play under the franchise tag in 2018. The Cowboys are optimistic that a long-term deal will get done with their top pass rusher, but are more so asking Lawrence to prove that last season was no oddity before backing up the Brinks truck.
Feeling that he can only earn more money with a continued effort to put injuries behind him and live up to his draft status as the 34th overall pick, Lawrence can become the first Cowboys defender since 2010-11 to record double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons.
Of course, this sampling of future Hall of Fame Defensive End DeMarcus Ware's career with the Cowboys is nothing too out of the ordinary. His rookie year being the only exception, Ware had at least 10 sacks every year in Dallas from 2006-2012. Ware lost this streak in 2013 in just 13 games for the Cowboys, signing with the Denver Broncos next season.
Just how well the Cowboys are going to handle high expectations with a very young roster seems to be this season's most pressing question. The answer is both simple and helplessly complex. The Cowboys will be relying on any proven players to continue in their progression, most of which working with new position coaches.
DeMarcus Lawrence has to top this list for the Cowboys, as the rest of their talented defensive line will only fall into place should Lawrence be a consistent force from the strong side.
A complete player in 2017, Lawrence was a stunningly efficient pass rusher with elite technique to beat opposing right tackles with ease and get to the quarterback. These massive strides for a healthy Tank Lawrence are the biggest reason Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys can expect to field a stout defense in support of a patented ball control offense.
Covering the changes the Cowboys have made on offense is well beyond the scope of this article, but not lost to Lawrence and his camp seeking a new contract are the corresponding changes around Lawrence at both defensive tackle and end.
Lawrence himself spoke to the importance of the Cowboys 3T-DT position last season, a starting spot that belonged to Maliek Collins at the time. Seemingly long gone are these days though, as Collins finished the season as the Cowboys one technique and opened the door for David Irving to start alongside Lawrence.
With the Cowboys now preparing for Oxnard, they'll be without Collins in any capacity for a while, as he deals with a second broken foot in three years. Irving is also starting 2018 with another four game suspension, turning the Cowboys depth at DT from a strength to an overall team weakness.
This cannot be an excuse for DeMarcus Lawrence, nor would he want it to be. There's a reason the Cowboys have been noncommittal to Irving (with Collins still on his rookie contract), while already laying the groundwork for Lawrence to earn a lucrative deal next summer -- at the latest.
As mentioned, the Cowboys sweeping changes across their coaching staff has already had a positive impact on the growth of several key players. With Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli specializing in DL play however, this is a group that remains unchanged from a coaching perspective.
Marinelli's patented rotation with his front four has all the numbers it needs to deploy one of the best units the Cowboys have fielded in years. One player that shouldn't be coming off the field much is DeMarcus Lawrence.
Whether or not this is a sack artist just getting started in the silver and blue or one that will reach his peak at an inopportune time is a defining question for the Cowboys in 2018. Missing the playoffs at 9-7 to effectively "waste" Lawrence's dominant 2017 stretch could be all the fuel Tank needs to push on into another contract year, or yet another example of the Cowboys never quite putting it all together.
There were just three edge rushers drafted before DeMarcus Lawrence in 2014. Only fifth overall pick Khalil Mack has put up a better season that Lawrence's 2017, following up 15 sacks in 2015 with 11 the following year and 10.5 last season.
The Cowboys drafting well is nothing new, and all indications is that they're patience with Lawrence is about to be an example of this for year's to come.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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