Free-Agent Setup: Cowboys must pursue Lawrence

By The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 24, 2018 at 9:49 PM
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After his timely breakout season in 2017 with a career-high 14.5 sacks, Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is in line to cash in big on the free-agent market.

Never mind that Lawrence has only had one good year with just nine sacks in his previous three seasons combined, largely because of injuries. He is the real deal and would be coveted if he reaches the open market.

The Cowboys have no intentions of letting him go and are almost certain to slap him with the franchise tag while continuing to work on a long-term deal. The problem for the Cowboys is the tag for Lawrence will likely be $17.5 million, taking a huge chunk of the salary cap. So they will try to continue to work on a deal to lower the cap once they tag him.

Look for the Cowboys to at least place the second-round tender on restricted free-agent defensive tackle David Irving, which will be roughly $3 million. In addition to re-signing Lawrence, the Cowboys would like to work a long-term contract extension with All-Pro guard Zack Martin and try to have enough money to hold on to free-agent linebacker Anthony Hitchens. The Cowboys are also expected to ask receiver Dez Bryant to take a pay cut from his salary of $12.5 million.

Unit-by-Unit Depth charts as of Super Bowl LII. Injured players listed as starters if that was their status when injured.

*Asterisk indicates player ended 2017 season on injured reserve.

QUARTERBACKS (C): Starter - Dak Prescott. Backup - Cooper Rush, *Zac Dysert.

RUNNING BACKS (B): Starters - Ezekiel Elliott, FB Keith Smith. Backups - Alfred Morris (UFA), Rod Smith.

TIGHT ENDS (C): Starter - Jason Witten. Backups - James Hanna, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, *Rico Gathers.

WIDE RECEIVERS (D): Starters - Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams. Backups - Cole Beasley, Brice Butler (UFA), Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (C): Starters - LT *Tyron Smith, LG Jonathan Cooper (UFA), C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT La'el Collins. Backups - G Joe Looney, T Chaz Green, T Byron Bell, T Kadeem Edwards.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (B): Starters -- DLE DeMarcus Lawrence (UFA), DLT David Irving, NT Maliek Collins, DRE Tyrone Crawford. Backups - DE Datone Jones, DT *Stephen Paea, DT Lewis Neal, DT Richard Ash, DE Benson Mayowa, DE Taco Charlton, DT Daniel Ross, DE *Charles Tapper, DT *Brian Price.

LINEBACKERS (B): Starters -WLB Sean Lee, MLB Anthony Hitchens (UFA), SLB Damien Wilson. Backups - OLB Kyle Wilber, OLB Jaylon Smith, OLB Justin March-Lillard, MLB Tre'Von Johnson.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (C): LCB Chidobe Awuzie, RCB Jourdan Lewis, SS Jeff Heath, FS Byron Jones. Backups - S Xavier Woods, S Kavon Frazier, CB Bene Benwikere, CB Anthony Brown, CB *Orlando Scandrick, CB *Duke Thomas.

SPECIAL TEAMS (C): K Dan Bailey, P Chris Jones, KOR/PR Ryan Switzer, LS L.P. Ladouceur.

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