DeMarcus Lawrence is not going anywhere. In fact, he’s sticking around even longer.
After the smoke from the Amari Cooper talk turned to fire in the form of being dealt to the Cleveland Browns, it became clear that the Dallas Cowboys mean business. And after trying to get Lawrence to take a pay cut, things were looking rather dicey when it came to retaining their All-Pro edge rusher. The Cowboys weren’t messing around with the notion that they wanted out of big contracts and have already shown where they want that money to go as they have re-upped with both Dalton Schultz (franchise tag) and Michael Gallup (five-year deal).
And while fans may question the cleverness of the Schultz and Gallup moves, the new deal they constructed for Lawrence was nothing short of brilliant. Previously, Lawrence’s 2022 cap hit was set to be $27 million. His base salary over his final two seasons averaged $20 million per year. But with some swift negotiating from the front office, the Cowboys now get Tank for three years instead of two and at an average annual cost of just $13.3 million. His cap hit drops from $27 million to just $14 million.
Just a week ago, the Cowboys were one of the teams with the least amount of cap space, but with the Dak Prescott restructure, Amari Cooper trade, and this new Lawrence deal, the Cowboys have been able to free up nearly $50 million in those moves alone and currently reside within the top 10 in cap space.
With all this extra cash, the Cowboys have the freedom to do a lot of things. They could decide to keep more of their own free agents. They could choose to be big spenders in free agency. And their remaining moves could fall in line with their draft plans come April. With so many options in front of them, here are three things the Cowboys should do next.
The first order of business - Re-sign Randy Gregory and Jayron Kearse
Instead of choosing between Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the Cowboys can now have both if they want. It’s unclear exactly what a new contract for Gregory will cost, but the team has the funds to pull it off. The veteran edge rusher had some of his best career moments last season and keeping him around would be huge for this defense.
Not only can the Cowboys afford Gregory, but they can bring back safety Jayron Kearse as well. Kearse had a great season as he led the Cowboys in tackles and deserves a nice contract. Although his strong season appeared to price him out in Dallas, that is no longer the case as the Cowboys can secure themselves something they’ve been missing for a while, a quality safety.
Having Kearse roaming the secondary would be nice and getting Gregory back rushing the passer would allow Micah Parsons to keep attacking in different ways rather than being limited to just one position, which brings us to...
The second order of business - Go after Bobby Wagner
Hiring Dan Quinn as the team’s defensive coordinator last year might be one of the top moves this organization has made in a long while. And keeping him around another year is such a big win for this team. But Quinn could be the gift that keeps on giving if he’s the factor that brings a six-time All-Pro linebacker to Dallas.
Bobby Wagner played for Quinn for two seasons in Seattle, including their Super Bowl-winning year in 2013. While Wagner is 31 years old, he’s coming off a career-high 170 tackles and has only missed two games over the past seven seasons. Having the sure tackling Wagner as part of this linebacker group would make this up-and-coming Cowboys defense even better.
The third order of business - Draft an offensive lineman
While the Cowboys may be bringing back this guy and that guy to cover key spots on the team, the offensive line remains an area of concern. And with reports that La’el Collins’ time in Dallas is coming to an end, the line could go from bad to worse.
But that doesn’t mean they’re in trouble because the team still has Terence Steele at right tackle and could address the left guard spot by snagging one of the top offensive linemen in the upcoming draft if the right player falls.
The Cowboys' biggest offseason need remains improving the offensive line, but this would be a good time to remind people that there will be a day one starter available at 24. pic.twitter.com/3O0WjoUR45— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) March 15, 2022
Wouldn’t that make you feel better about the state of the offensive line?