INDIANAPOLIS – Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones fully expects to reach a long-term deal with DeMarcus Lawrence.
When? Now, that's a different question and certainly an important one as the start of free agency is only two weeks away.
But talking to reporters Tuesday morning from the NFL Scouting Combine, Jones said the two sides will continue to negotiate a long-term deal, even getting the chance to meet this week in Indianapolis.
Jones said the Cowboys have made an official offer to Lawrence and will continue to hash out details with an effort to complete the deal before the March 13 start to free agency.
"I don't know the timing," Jones said. "But I'm very confident we can get a deal done."
The Cowboys have until March 5 to place the franchise tag on Lawrence for a second-straight year. This time, tagging him would cost the Cowboys about $20 million, assuming a deal isn't in place before July 15, the deadline when teams can sign franchised players to long-term contracts.
But it sounds as if the March 5 deadline isn't the most important one here. From the sounds of it, the Cowboys have no intention of letting Lawrence hit the open market, as Jones suggested they will use the tag again if they have to.
"It's the last day you've got to tag him, but at the end of the day we know it's not over if it doesn't get done by then," he said. "So I'd hate to put deadlines on anything. Would we like to get it done? I'd like to have it done yesterday. But we've just got to continue to work."
Lawrence played the 2018 season under the tag without any complaints, but that's not a guarantee to happen again this year. He also takes top billing because – unlike Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and several others – he isn't currently under contract.
"Obviously, D-Law is a priority," Jones said. "He played under the franchise tag and did it in a very respectful way and played his butt off. I do think he's first up."
Jones wouldn't comment when asked about the possibility of the star pass rusher holding out until he gets a new deal. But with four months until the deadline for negotiating a long-term deal, he didn't sound like he was worried about the prospect of agreeing on a deal – simply the timing.
"I think everybody's on the record, from Jerry to myself to Jason to Will, what we think of D-Law," he said.
Lawrence has made the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons, leading the Cowboys in sacks in both years. After 14.5 sacks in 2017, Lawrence had 10.5 sacks last season, becoming the first true defensive end since Charles Haley (1994-95) to record consecutive double-digit sack seasons for the Cowboys.