As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport, Lawrence and the Cowboys came to terms Friday afternoon on a five-year, $105 million contract. The deal has an average annual value of $21 million and includes $65 million in guaranteed money, the fourth-most given to defensive player (behind Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, and Von Miller).
Notably, with a first-year payout of $31.1 million and a $25 million signing bonus, this deal narrowly eclipses the record set by superstar LB Khalil Mack with the Chicago Bears for the highest first contract year value awarded to a non-Quarterback player in NFL history. The previous record (set in 2018) was for $31 million. Khalil Mack’s six-year, $141 million contract and $90 million guarantee still dwarfs that of Lawrence in terms of AAV (average annual value) and guaranteed money.
Since being drafted by the Cowboys with the 34th overall pick in 2014, the 26-year-old DeMarcus Lawrence has been a staple and force to be reckoned with in the Dallas pass rush. After a slow start in his rookie season, leading his team in sacks in 2015, and disappointing junior season defined by a back injury that required two surgeries, Lawrence recorded a combined 25 sacks in his last two seasons (fourth best in the NFL). Moreover, in that timeframe, he has averaged roughly 60 tackles and 3 forced fumbles a season. For his efforts, Lawrence was selected to consecutive Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018.
Often endearingly referred to by owner Jerry Jones as his marquee “war daddy”, the Cowboys have been on a mission this offseason to ensure they resigned Lawrence. Problematically (at least until today), negotiations between Lawrence and the Cowboys had not been going well.
At the beginning of this offseason, the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on Lawrence (that would have paid him $20.5 million this season) as a placeholder for ongoing contract negotiations. Lawrence had expressed his interest and demands for a long-term deal making him one of the highest paid pass rushers in the league. Lawrence had also expressed his unwillingness to participate in offseason activities and intention to hold out on the season if the two parties failed to reach a deal. As recently as March 26th, Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones had stated the two parties were at an “impasse”.
However, after reinitiating talks this week, a deal was struck Friday afternoon.
In celebratory fashion, Lawrence wrote on his Twitter, “New Number Who Dis? #LawN90rder.”
Now, with their most important piece finally off the table, the Cowboys will now likely shift their negotiating focus towards long term extensions with running back Ezekiel Elliot, quarterback Dak Prescott, and newly acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper.
In an offseason in which the Cowboys have added veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb, traded for Pro Bowl pass rusher Robert Quinn and brought Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten out of retirement, the addition of DeMarcus Lawrence makes the Dallas Cowboys a legitimate Super Bowl contender and an arguably runaway favorite in the NFC East.
However, only time will tell as the Cowboys seek to bring Jerry Jones his first championship in 24 years.