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Cowboys to tag Demarcus Lawrence if deal isn't done

Cowboys defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence tallied 14.5 sacks last season. Will the Pro Bowler be back in Dallas for the squad's 2018 campaign?

On Thursday, at the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award ceremony, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones made it known that retaining Lawrence is the team's priority this offseason.

"We won't let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year. We'll get that straight right now," Jones said, per Dave Helman of "We'll do everything we can to try to make something work, and if we don't get it done then we'll franchise tag him. Then we'll go back to work. We'd like to not have that franchise tag hanging out there. We've got a big negotiation ahead of us. But we don't want Demarcus Lawrence going anywhere."

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday that Lawrence's agent has yet to meet with the Cowboys but that will change next week in Indianapolis at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.

Pelissero adds the talks will not go anywhere unless the Cowboys offer Lawrence at least the $17 million price tag that Olivier Vernon got from the Giants two years ago. Vernon and Lawrence share the same agent -- David Canter.

The Cowboys have until March 6 to place the franchise tag on Lawrence if a long-term deal cannot be reached.

Pro Football Focus graded Lawrence their No. 3 overall 4-3 defensive end and No. 2 pass rusher at the position for 2017.

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