DeMarcus Lawrencenever fretted about playing the 2018 season under the franchise tag. The Dallas Cowboys pass rusher simply went out and doubled-down on his inspiring surge to the forefront of NFL quarterback disruptors.
Lawrence's first three seasons were a mixed bag, then he busted out in 2017, compiling 14.5 sacks and 58 tackles. The question Dallas needed to answer in 2018 was whether the defensive end was the mostly disappointing player from his first three years or the potential game-wrecker he displayed in one season?
The 26-year-old proved to the Cowboys he could be a consistent force. Despite being chipped and doubled more than previous seasons, Lawrence still compiled 10.5 sacks and 64 tackles. His ascension, from teetering on disappointment while dealing with injuries to consistent force, have proven to Dallas they can trust giving the pass rusher a big contract.
"I wouldn't say we were a long ways apart; we were apart," Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said of last year's negotiations, via the Dallas Morning News. "Certainly DeMarcus has done his part to make us feel more comfortable. He put together now two back-to-back, double-digit sack seasons. Of course he's a leader by example. ...Nothing's changed in terms of my opinion, except for the better."
The question is whether the Cowboys will hand Lawrence a massive offer before the deadline to franchise tag players comes due. If Dallas can't agree on a price for the pass rusher, expect another tag to be used to extend the timeline to get a deal done this offseason, especially given that other Cowboys stars like Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooperare all also seeking new contracts.