You might be hearing the name Olivier Vernon a lot this offseason when the subject comes up of a long-term contract for DeMarcus Lawrence. Tom Pelissero notes that Lawrence’s agent is the same as Vernon’s, and they’re going to be asking for roughly the same money averaging $17 million a year.
The #Cowboys have yet to speak with DeMarcus Lawrence’s agent about a long-term deal. That’ll change next week in Indy, but don’t expect talks to go anywhere unless Dallas offers at least Olivier Vernon money — $17 million a year. @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/hpXnmgK5lj— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 22, 2018
As noted above, the Cowboys haven't opened up negotiations yet, they are waiting until the Combine begins.
Vernon was coming off a 7.5 sack season when he got his big deal, and never had a sack year with more than 11.5. What Vernon did have over Lawrence is consistency. Vernon was usually healthy and each year he put up some numbers. Lawrence has been much more hit and miss with his back issues and one suspension.
Of course, that $17 million is just a starting point. Lawrence’s agents are going to put their highest number out there as a marker as they begin negotiations. It’s unlikely the Cowboys would just agree with those demands, so the game begins. A few Cowboys writers, including our own DannyPhantom, have offered up their predictions.
The Cowboys will try to back-load the contract if they can get away with it, but they still have their leverage with a franchise tag. Lawrence will get somewhere just north of $17 million in 2018 under the tag, so unless there is a way the Cowboys can get him long-term and get a low cap number early on, they could just sit back for a year and keep him under the tag. Then the process would start all over again but the Cowboys would have another year to see if they want to commit that kind of money. Ideally, though, they would really like to get a lower cap number this year to help with deals for guys like Zack Martin and possible free agents.
Either way, Lawrence will be in Dallas in 2018, it just depends on what kind of contract, long-term or franchise tag.