Cowboys place franchise tag on Lawrence, focus on long-term deal for Zack Martin

Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Football

The Dallas Cowboys placed their franchise tag on free agent defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence as expected, a source firmed Monday.

The deadline to place franchise tag on players was 3 p.m. Tuesday. The Cowboys submitted their paperwork Monday.

They made no headway on a long-term deal following conversations with Lawrence's agent, David Canter, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis over the weekend, according to sources.

With no deal, the plan all along was to tag Lawrence while continuing to work on a long-term deal, ensuring that he will be with the Cowboys in 2018 one way or another following his breakout season with 14.5 sacks in 2017.

Vice president Stephen Jones said as much and owner Jerry Jones confirmed that the team was comfortable with paying Lawrence the tag number of $17.5 million in 2018.

"We won't let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year," Stephen Jones said last week at the NFL scouting combine. "We'll do everything we can to try to make something work, and if we don't get it done then we'll franchise him. Then we'll go back to work."

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talked about the team's approach to Lawrence on Saturday.

"There are advantages that the franchise tag gives you," Jerry Jones said. "It creates some leverage to get a long-term deal done. You certainly have some ambiguity as a player when you have a one-year deal. You have it as a club, too. But you can read some tea leaves during that year. I'm satisfied at where the numbers are, both Lawrence and the Cowboys are getting value here. I see it both ways. But it's an acceptable value for the Cowboys as well to be able to do a one-year deal."

The Cowboys have until July 16 to sign Lawrence to a long-term deal in an effort to lower his 2018 cap hit.

With roughly $20 million in cap room on the 2018 cap of $178 million, Lawrence's number gives the Cowboys limited flexibility in free agency. The plan to put first- or second-round tender on defensive tackle David Irving will eat up another $3 million, at least.


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