Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys can’t overpay Lawrence

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence /

 DeMarcus Lawrence had a career high in sacks last season, but the Cowboys need to be careful and not overpay for him.

Finally, the Dallas Cowboys got a return on their investment when defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence had a career high in sacks with 14.5 and was a force to be reckoned with.

Big boy “Tank” was dominating inferior tackles on his way to sacking opposing quarterbacks on a regular basis. To put this into perspective, Tank had tallied 10 sacks in his the first nine games of the season. Wow!

Until this season, Tank had recorded no more than eight sacks in a single season, and that happened back in 2015. The only reason Tank had that many sacks then was because troublemaker defensive end Greg Hardy commanded double teams.

But this season he led the way.  It was an awesome sight watching Tank play the role of “War Daddy” every Sunday afternoon. It was about time the Cowboys had found their elusive “War Daddy”, after watching opposing quarterbacks sit back and terrorize the defense, especially that bad man known as Aaron Rodgers.

As great as Tank played this past season-and as talented as he may be-the Cowboys can’t afford to overpay him. And I’ll tell you why.

Yeah, I know he was suspended but why only one sack? Tank had more than enough games to prove his worth. If Tank had between 8 or more sacks in 2016, I’ll be more than impressed that he’s not a one season wonder.

Dependable equals availability

There is no doubt Tank had one hell of a season as he collected 14. 5 sacks, and he had 36 tackles and four FF (forced fumbles) to make the Pro Bowl. The man was disruptive and played with high energy, used good technique, and held his own when double-teamed.

In order for Tank to reach those career highs, he was available for all 16 games. It’s the first time in his four-year career he’s started and played a full season.

During the 2016 season, Tank played in only nine games, started in three of them, and recorded one measly sack! One reason for the lackluster season was Tank’s suspension, missing the first four games of the season for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.

That’s one red flag and it’s not good. Tank was so non-existent that season that David Irvin had a break out year and was seen as the future “War Daddy” for the Cowboys.

The other red flag is that Tank has a history of being injured.  If you recall, Tank went down with a foot injury before his rookie season even started in 2014.

The Cowboys placed Tank on IR (injured reserve) and took him off later on that season. Remember how Tank played the game of his life against the Detroit Lions in the playoffs when he had one sack, two tackles, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble?

The future looked bright for Tank as he entered the 2015 season, playing along side Hardy and recording 8 sacks. But although he improved from his rookie campaign, Tank still dealt with back issues throughout the season.

A drug suspension and multiple injuries are clear negatives and lethal combination for any football player, especially when big money is involved. And speaking of big money…

Related Story: Why it's good Stephen Jones put players on blast

Contract year

How many times have we witnessed an NFL player ball out during his contract year? It happens every year where players will out perform their current deal only to be rewarded with mega bucks after the season.

Former All Pro Dez Bryant comes to mind. Back in 2014, Dez led all receivers with 16 touchdowns, and he caught 88 passes for over 1300 receiving yards. In Dez’s defense, he got better each and every season, but his contract year was his best ever as a Cowboys receiver.

Nevertheless, it was Dez’s contract year. He balled out. Well, we all know how much Dez has struggled and regressed since then (with injuries and a lack of production).

And that’s one of the major concerns I have with Tank. The “War Daddy” we saw this season has been missing most of his young career. I’ll give Tank credit for his 2015 season, but what happened in 2016?

Yeah, I know he was suspended but why only one sack? Tank had more than enough games to prove his worth. If Tank had 8 or more sacks in 2016, I’d feel better about him not just being a one-season-wonder.

More from Dallas Cowboys

If that had happened, Tank would’ve tallied at least 30 sacks in a three-year span. No argument from me. I’ll say sign the man to a long-term deal.

Since this was Tank’s contract year, the Cowboys need to be careful and not overspend for Tank’s services. More than likely, Tank will receive the franchise tag and make around $17.5 million guaranteed next season.

Tank’s agent, David Canter, signed New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon to the richest contract for a defensive end in NFL history.

The hated Giants went on to sign Vernon to a ridiculous five-year, $85 million dollar contract with $52.5 million guaranteed. You can bet he’s looking for considerably more than that for Tank.

Next: Cowboys complete 7-round mock draft (Jan 31)

With all of Jerry Jones‘ shenanigans, let’s hope he doesn’t do the same thing and overpay for a player who has a history of poor production, being suspended, and possibly injury-prone.

It was Tank’s contract year. Let’s see him record 14.5 sacks again first.