FRISCO, Texas – When the Cowboys announced the official signing of DeMarcus Lawrence on Tuesday, both Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and even “D-Law” proudly referred to him signing the largest contract in Cowboys history.
However, that’s a label that might not last very long.
For now, the five-year, $105 million contract is the largest annual deal in franchise history at $21 million per season. Also, the $65 million guaranteed is also the highest in Cowboys annals.
But by the start of the season, Lawrence’s contact could be surpassed, maybe even twice.
Cowboys vice president and executive of player personnel Stephen Jones said on Tuesday that he anticipates perhaps Amari Cooper and certainly Dak Prescott to be in the neighborhood, if not beyond, the deal that Lawrence just signed.
“When you’re getting ready to do a quarterback that’s a franchise quarterback that has already put some serious skins on the wall like Dak has, no, he’s probably not going to be there for long. But he can always say that he held the amount. Even for a short time.”
Jones said the negotiations between the Cowboys and the representatives for both Prescott and Cooper have already begun, with no specific priority.
“There’s really not a pecking order. We could work two, three, four at one time if it makes sense,” Jones said. “We’ve already started. We’ve talked. We’re going at a certain pace here. You have to have a willing partner.”
For Prescott, who is entering the fourth and final year of his original contract, he is currently scheduled to make $2.025 million, thanks to performance-based bonuses.
Still, his $2.1 million cap hit in 2019 ranks 42nd in the NFL, behind just about every projected starting quarterback and several backups.
That will definitely change, perhaps even before the start of the season, as Prescott is expected to be made one of the top-10 highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL.
His lead receiver, Cooper, is also looking at a big payday, although he’s already up there, having been the No. 4 overall pick back in 2015.
Unlike Prescott, the Cowboys could potentially lower Cooper’s cap charge of $13.9 million this year, depending on how the deal is structured. However, look for Cooper to ask for a contract that will pay him annually in the range of at least $15-16 million, which would make him a top-5 receiver in the league.
Jones did acknowledge that both Cooper and Prescott are "at the forefront right now" of the Cowboys' priority list to sign. But Ezekiel Elliott has two years left before needing a deal, including his fifth-year option in 2020. The Cowboys could decide to give him a new deal now to lock him up during his prime years. Also, cornerback Byron Jones is in the fifth and final year of his original contract. Linebacker Jaylon Smith is set to become a restricted free agent after the season and could be in line for a new deal before then as well.
“That’s the hard part that we have. You can’t have everyone max out their deal,” Jones said. “But it’s our job to verbalize that to them that we have to take care of other people, too. But we know it’s a challenge and we look forward to it.”