Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys turned second tag into a fair deal

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Pittsburgh Steelers, take note. The Dallas Cowboys have shown you and the rest of the league how to properly structure a long-term deal for a player who is restricted by the franchise tag.

With $20.56 million on the books for 2019 — and a chance to make $29.6 million under a third franchise tag in 2020 — Lawrence swapped the tag in the hand for a long-term deal that made sense for both sides.

Albert Breer of SI.com has posted the cash flow generated by the new long-term deal. And the key comes from the first two years: Lawrence gets $31.1 million in 2019 and $16.9 million in 2020, fully guaranteed.

That’s $48 million over two years. While $2.1 million less than the $50.1 million he would have made under the franchise tag over the next two years, it’s also more than the franchise tag/transition tag two-step that the Cowboys could have attempted, which would have resulted in $20.56 million in 2019 and $24.672 million in 2020, for a total of $45.23 million.

Lawrence also has $17 million in 2021 that is guaranteed for injury at signing, and that amount becomes fully guaranteed in March of 2020 — not March of 2021. This means that he’ll either get $65 million for three years or $48 million for one year, and a trip to the open market.

To get that security, Lawrence had to agree to a pair of non-guaranteed years on the back and, at $19 million in 2022 and $21 million in 2023. There’s a chance that increases in the salary cap, along with other contracts signed in the interim, will make those numbers seem pedestrian by then. There’s also a chance the Cowboys won’t honor the non-guaranteed years. Regardless, he’s getting either $48 million for one year or $65 million for three, which makes it worth the risk that he’ll either be underpaid or cut loose in 2022.

And if the Steelers were willing (they’re definitely able) to structure contracts this way, running back Le'Veon Bell would still be on the team. But because Pittsburgh stubbornly refuses to fully guarantee money beyond the first year of a contract, it never made sense for Bell to trade in a one-year fully-guaranteed franchise tender for a long-term deal with no clear commitment beyond the first season.

48 responses to “Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys turned second tag into a fair deal

  1. For anyone not paying attention…Stephen Jones now runs the Cowboys…They’ve drafted as well as anyone and they pay their players!!! The only reason they haven’t had any success in the playoffs is because they have one of the worst Head Coaches in the league…and since Stephen is in control and not Jerry…Garrett will not be resigned after this year…

  2. Great teaching moment. If injured, do not get surgery and you will be paid 100 Million.

  3. And if the Steelers were willing (they’re definitely able) to structure contracts this way, running back Le’Veon Bell would still be on the team.

    You mean like giving away $48M over the first two years of a contract? That wouldn’t have made Bell happy either because he thought he could get $100M guaranteed from the Steelers. I don’t call that unwilling to structure contracts that way. I call it smart not to pay a clown $48M over two years who has a history of injuries, suspension and being a “me” player.

  4. Bell got offered PLENTY of guaranteed cash by the Steelers. He didn’t show up because of his me-first attitude & a stupid agent, plain & simple.

  5. Still trying to defend the Bell deal? There is a thing called opportunity cost and Bell hurt himself with his decision to not play. No running back is worth 15 million or 16 million a year when you can plug an overweight running back (Looking at you C.J. Anderson) into your line up and advance to the superbowl. Have 3 running backs close to the league minimum that specializes in certain game situations, allows for freedom and flexibility at other more important positions. I am glad this distract and over priced running back is gone.

  6. Not a Cowboys fan, not even, but gotta admit they’ve been doing things right for a couple years, maybe 3. I first noticed it when they let Dez go. Even Garrett looks to have gotten smarter… maybe a litte. What they do with Dak will be interesting to watch.

  7. ryann252013 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 11:35 am
    Incoming Steeler fans to remind everyone how good and respected their team was almost a decade ago.

    At least they are not Jets fans to remind us how relevant the Jets were 50 years ago and how they were good and respected…..never.

  8. I love the digs at the Steelers who did not offer further guarantees to a player with 2 suspensions under his belt and a failure to disclose an injury that forced him out of an important playoff game. But keep painting him as a pillar of virtue.

  9. Well done by my Cowboys. The moved up in the draft (giving up their 3rd) to select him in the second round. The Cowboys knew exactly what they got back then. Dlaw’s character and professional development as a playersince then makes

  10. Well done by my Cowboys. The moved up in the draft (giving up their 3rd) to select him in the second round. The Cowboys knew exactly what they got back then. Dlaw’s character and professional development as a playersince then makes

  11. Comparing this contract to what the Steelers offered Bell is nonsense – one is a pass rusher, which is a mid-level “beaten up” position, while the other plays one of the two highest attrition positions in the sport. So it makes sense for the contract structures to be different. As it stands, with the entire open market available to him Bell still only got a de facto 2 year contract, meaning that WITH THE ENTIRE LEAGUE TO NEGOTIATE WITH BELL DIDN’T COME CLOSE TO THE SORT OF DEAL YOU’RE SUGGESTING THE STEELERS SHOULD HAVE HANDED HIM. And, as a reminder, Pittsburgh replaced Bell’s value just fine last year.

  12. Well done by my Cowboys. The moved up in the draft (giving up their 3rd) to select him in the second round. The Cowboys knew exactly what they got back then. Dlaw’s character and professional development as a player since then makes this deal. Dlaw earned his money, and with his prime years ahead of him, the Cowboys made sure he remains a vital cog in their organization throughout those years. A rare win win big money contract.

  13. have to say there is a chance that Demarcus Lawrence does not honor the last two years of this deal as well as saying the Cowboys wont either…Its a two way street….botton line Cowboys kept a player the wanted on their roster for a few years…Now its all about the approx 40 free agents the Cowboys have next year to sign.

  14. With teams paying such big contracts I wonder how long it will be before the NFL follows the AAF ~ Paying such huge contract cannot go on forever ~ Yeah I know it’s not going to happen in the next 2 or 3 years ~ But I could see real problems in 5 years~

  15. Let’s see how well this works out for the Cowboys as they try to sign Smith, Zeke, Dax, Cooper, and others to their long term deals.

    As for the Steelers, no one offered him a contract even near what the Steelers offered. And no one offered him a contract even close to what you suggest the Steelers should have offered. Give it up.

  16. Why should a team have to continue paying someone that sucks just because they had a couple good years?

  17. That’s a lot of money the first year for a player likely to be on the PUP list for half the season. Cowboys should have waited until after his offseason surgery!

  18. Steven Jones influence has helped the Cowboys but until Jerry is on the wrong side of the grass his over bearing personality is still a negative that can’t be dismissed.

  19. Don Trump says:
    April 6, 2019 at 12:03 pm
    Still trying to defend the Bell deal? There is a thing called opportunity cost and Bell hurt himself with his decision to not play. No running back is worth 15 million or 16 million a year when you can plug an overweight running back (Looking at you C.J. Anderson) into your line up and advance to the superbowl. Have 3 running backs close to the league minimum that specializes in certain game situations, allows for freedom and flexibility at other more important positions. I am glad this distract and over priced running back is gone.

    _______________________________________________________

    Typical for one with a username such as yourself. You only see what you want to see. Having separate, specialized backs will tip your hand against any alert defense. Even if you decide to go with a misdirect, you are then having your back do something that is outside of his skillset against a defense’s ability to adapt. Either way, not a great play. That’s why a 3 down back is so valuable, any play with them in the game is available.

  20. deprado1 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 11:26 am
    Joey Bosa the next $100 million plus player and the next “in the history of the NFL” contract.

    ——————————-

    Not if Russell Wilson has anything to say, he’s doing what he can to be the highest paid QB in history despite being in the #4 to #8 range in the league (Brady, Brees, Mahommes for sure, then arguably any of Luck, Rivers, Rodgers, Roethlisberger). Bosa will get a similar deal to the Lawrence one – what I’m reading about Wilson will be a different world – like 180 million for 5 years with over 100m guaranteed. If he gets is I hope he’s happy snapping to himself, blocking for himself, passing to himself, and handing it off to himself – because they’re not going to be able to afford anything else.

  21. “But, but… Jerry! He can’t sign Dak and Zeke! Look at Jerry! he doesn’t know what he’s doing! Ooohhh Lawrence is overpaid!”

    What all the clueless clowns said when news of this signing became public.

  22. Backseat GM’s making ridiculous statements. Bell was one infraction away from a long suspension, he also did not get a deal you are saying the steelers should have given him. Basically saying “HEY IF THE STEELERS OVERPAID HE WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED!” of course that is the case with any player….

  23. my_old_name_was_offensive says: “For anyone not paying attention…Stephen Jones now runs the Cowboys…They’ve drafted as well as anyone and they pay their players!!!”

    As a Redskins fan, I’ve noticed, and I’m really not happy about it.

  24. He just hit the lottery. When you think about it, he made 17 million last year on the tag, then if it’s only 1 year and he gets 48 then he’s made 65 right there. If he makes the full 65 with last year, then he will have made 82 in a short period of time. Man, I wish that I was that lucky hitting the lottery.

  25. Everyone saying the Cowboys did this right are crazy. Once they franchised him, they were stuck paying him 20m plus a year. They shouldn’t have franchised him, offered him a deal, and let him walk if he doesn’t like it. How much are they going to pay Zeke, Dak, and Cooper? Will be in cap hell in two years that will take them 5 years to get out of.
    And everyone criticizing the Steelers and the Bell contract. I think the Steelers offered him too much money, and were probably glad he didn’t take it.

  26. Here’s a player who has 34 sacks in 5 seasons. He’s only had double digit sacks in the two seasons he was on contract years. Now that he’s paid, he won’t see double digit sacks again. Waste of money. Remember, this is the team that picked Taco Charlton (4 sacks) over TJ Watt (20 sacks).

  27. Yea yea yeah, the Cowboys are the greatest and the a Jones are so damn brilliant, lol! The Bous better win now because they are closing in on cap hell, pay 50 a75% of your cap to 3-4 players and fill in the rest with one year deals and minimum wage players. Sustained success! Lol.

  28. @enoughofthatalready

    Jet fans don’t talk about SB3 because most of the people who were alive to see it are 80-90 years old now, and don’t know how to use technology so you’re wrong. You make things up as you go a long just like you wanted Tomlin fired at the end of the year to make everything better. It’ll be fun watching Steeler fans leave NY drunk, confused, and miserable this season.

  29. joebailey2040 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 1:55 pm
    Here’s a player who has 34 sacks in 5 seasons. He’s only had double digit sacks in the two seasons he was on contract years. Now that he’s paid, he won’t see double digit sacks again. Waste of money. Remember, this is the team that picked Taco Charlton (4 sacks) over TJ Watt (20 sacks).
    ========================================================================================
    The benefit of an edge rusher is so much more than sack totals. The ability to cause disruption to allow opportunities for others to make plays, cause double or triple teams, hurries and hits are all important. A great edge rusher could easily have low sack totals yet still cause a huge amount of disruption in the passing game. But some just love stats and assumptions (now that x is paid, he won’t try hard anymore).

  30. “…Pittsburgh stubbornly refuses to fully guarantee money beyond the first year of a contract…” Why criticize that approach? Guaranteed money is only important if a player isn’t worth his contract. If he is, then the team will want to keep him and he’ll get the money. The guarantees only matter when the player isn’t worth keeping at the called-for salary. I don’t understand why so many feel it’s so important to champion such a backwards concept. I mean, look how well it’s worked out for baseball.

  31. Hold on, yes I’m an Eagles fan but I’ll be honest here. You’re saying making the 18th best sack total player who’s injury prone the second highest DEFENSIVE player in the league smart football? Lawrence is good but not worth that. The Cowboys could’ve had Earl Thomas, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and an extra 8 million more for the price of Lawrence. Don’t forget you have to pay Zeke, Dak and Cooper…which one goes? I’d take Cooper over Lawrence any day. Zeke is top 3/4 RB in league. Eagle fans are happy trust me. The Patriots are the ones who do it right. Never overpay and replace players easily.

  32. I wish there could be a more advanced sack stat than just counting all sacks the same. I’ve seen guys have 2 great games during blowouts and rack up 3-4 in garbage time. We might want to go with pressure rate over actual sacks.

  33. rpw84 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 2:03 pm
    Yea yea yeah, the Cowboys are the greatest and the a Jones are so damn brilliant, lol! The Bous better win now because they are closing in on cap hell, pay 50 a75% of your cap to 3-4 players and fill in the rest with one year deals and minimum wage players. Sustained success! Lol.
    ————————
    As of Friday morning, Dallas had an estimated 116 million dollars of cap space for 2020 according to over the cap. They would have had 33 players under contract for ’20, 34 now. Sure it’s a lot to pay an edge rusher, but a low 3rd(compensatory) isn’t adequate compensation for a player like Lawrence.
    Dallas has its cap in order, has a good young core group, and are locking up strong talent at premium positions like edge, CB, and LT which leaves lesser positions like S, TE, and DT to be filled by low cost FAs or the draft. As long as Will McClay stays put the draft should continue to go well.

  34. It’s currently great fun to poke the Steelers for letting Bell and Brown get out of Pittsburgh. Of course, since Brown and Bell became 2 of the best players at their position, the Steelers have not gotten close to a Super Bowl. So let’s wait and see how they do w/o these 2 guys before we get too critical of their tactics in signing players. And see how this signing works out for Dallas before praising their genius front office…

  35. I reported the contract structure aligning almost to the final structure described in this article in the comments of the Profootballtalk article which described the two sides as close, posted (unedited – with 3 thumbs down) as follows:

    jlbay says:
    April 5, 2019 at 6:39 pm
    My sources have said that the team is just around $40 million in at signing guaranteed money and Lawrence’s side is just over $50 million (down from a starting point of $60 million). They are close on the per year amount at ~$20 million and it looks to be a 6 year deal for $120 million.

    The likely landing spot will be $47 million guaranteed at time of signing, with about $75 million guaranteed in full for injury. Expectations are that there will be ~$36 million in signing bonus, $6 million base and $1 million roster bonus for year 1. Year 2 will have $3 million base plus $1 million roster bonus, Year 3 base $11 million plus $2 million roster bonus, year 4 $15 million base, year 5 $15.5 million with $6.5 million roster bonus and year 6 with $16.5 million base and $6.5 roster bonus.

    The first 2 years will be fully guaranteed at signing for a total of $47 million with year 3 & 4 against injury for a total of $75 million. It will have $36 million cash at signing and with year 1 based total cash year 1 is $43 million, year 2 cash $4 million, year 3 cash $13 million, year 4 cash $15 million, year 5 cash $21 million and year 6 cash $22 million. From a cap hit it will be year 1 – $13 million, year 2 – $10 million, year – 3 $19 million, year 4 – $21 million, year 5 – $27 million and year 6 – $28 million.

    That is the structure my sources are putting out there, and the contract really functions in three phases, the first two years are guaranteed, the next 2 years are guaranteed for injury and the last 2 let the team off the hook with only $12 million of dead money hit and is really setting the table for restructuring for cap purposes.

    0 3 Rate This

  36. Stubbornly refused? Every TMZ report of a limping Todd Gurley demonstrates that maybe the Steelers know what they are doing. The Steelers are tops in thier players see the most money in thier deals so your argument lacks support.

  37. frank booth
    Apr 6, 2019, 1:21 PM CDT
    joebailey2040 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 1:55 pm
    Here’s a player who has 34 sacks in 5 seasons. He’s only had double digit sacks in the two seasons he was on contract years. Now that he’s paid, he won’t see double digit sacks again. Waste of money. Remember, this is the team that picked Taco Charlton (4 sacks) over TJ Watt (20 sacks).
    ========================================================================================
    The benefit of an edge rusher is so much more than sack totals. The ability to cause disruption to allow opportunities for others to make plays, cause double or triple teams, hurries and hits are all important. A great edge rusher could easily have low sack totals yet still cause a huge amount of disruption in the passing game. But some just love stats and assumptions (now that x is paid, he won’t try hard anymore).
    ——————————————————————-
    The Cowboys were 18th in sacks in 2018. The next top sackers had 6 and 5.5 sacks. Chicago, on the other hand, were 4 in total sacks because of Khalil Mack. Also, Lawrence plays Left Def End which means he goes against the worse pass blocking Tackle on the team, and still has middle of the road production and the team has average sack production as well.

  38. ryann252013 says:
    April 6, 2019 at 2:16 pm
    @enoughofthatalready

    Jet fans don’t talk about SB3 because most of the people who were alive to see it are 80-90 years old now, and don’t know how to use technology so you’re wrong. You make things up as you go a long just like you wanted Tomlin fired at the end of the year to make everything better. It’ll be fun watching Steeler fans leave NY drunk, confused, and miserable this season.

    Let the Jets beat the Steelers this year, who cares. Jets fans have left their stadium drunk, confused and miserable for decades. And remember the Steelers squashed the Jets last hope at a Super Bowl appearance. But I guess I am making this up. My bad.

  39. The franchise tags were costing 20+ a year from here on out. Either cut him or pay him. If you want him to play for your team for the next three years, sign him to a contract. This is where the numbers are regardless.

    The only people who can’t get this are the ones who thought the Cowboys could pay Lawrence 3 million a year. Yeah, I read that comment on a previous article. Those are numbers from the 80s.

    Cut the mullet and catch up.

  40. I’d say the Steelers were smart with Bell. Connor showed that paying RBs big money doesn’t make sense. What big money RB has a won a SB in the last 10 years? None. Granted, the Steelers have not had much playoff success lately, but at least they are in the mix year in and year out. Let’s see Dallas start winning on a consistent basis before we talk about how great they are at structuring contracts.

  41. ” This means that he’ll either get $65 million for three years or $48 million
    for one year, and a trip to the open market. ”

    To some, giving that kind of guaranteed money to a player who is about to
    under go surgery, is a brilliant idea. Thankfully, the Steelers are bit more savvy
    than that. To take on huge guaranteed deals that could potentially crush a
    team’s cap structure if the player doesn’t recover fully enough and play
    at a high level, is just a foolish risk to take.

    To hand over $48 mil for one year then let him go ?
    How is that good business sense, and not silly talk.

    Seems the fabricator of this nonsense can’t bring himself to admit he is wrong
    about the Le’Veon Bell deal. Even after 31 other teams scoffed at the idea of
    giving Le’Veon this type of guaranteed deal and his lofty $17 mil price tag.
    Le’Veon financially screwed himself, that can’t be denied.

    Yet, expect the drum beat to continue about how the Steelers have to change
    the way they’ve successfully done business for decades. Good luck with that.

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