"We won't let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year. We'll get that straight right now," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said last month, per Dave Helman of the team's official website. "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."
Lawrence compiled 14.5 sacks in 2017, second-most in the NFL. The game-wrecking defensive end was an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year after earning 10.5 sacks in the first seven games of the season.
Sides have until July 16 to work out a long-term contract or Lawrence will play under the one-year tender for $17.143 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
Lawrence told NFL.com during the Pro Bowl he wasn't worried about getting hit with the franchise tag.
"Franchise not bad. Contract not bad," the 25-year-old said at the time. "So, like I said, I'm not worrying about nothing. I'll leave it up to my agent; he'll take care of me."
On Monday night, he reiterated that stance to NFL Network's Jane Slater: "I feel like they have given me the opportunity to really break the bank next year."
The Cowboys guaranteed their defense would bring back one heat-seeking pass rusher. Now the team needs to work on surrounding their franchise player with a consistent complementary piece heading to 2018.