In your opinion what do you think it is going to cost to keep DeMarcus Lawrence? Will it break the bank and keep us from signing other key players in the future? - MICHAEL SUTTON / SISSETON, SD
Bryan: I believe that DeMarcus Lawrence’s contract will fall somewhere between Khalil Mack’s $23.5 million and Von Miller’s $19 million. Lawrence is going to feel like he deserves that he needs to be paid closer to Mack’s number, while the club feels that Miller’s number is a good place to start. I am not sure you can just split the difference here, but that might be good enough to make this work for both parties.
Rob: If they re-sign Lawrence – and my guess is they’ll get something done at some point this offseason – they’ll still have space to re-sign others. I don’t expect them to be involved heavily in signing outside free agents. As usual, this is about drafting well and keeping the best players they’ve developed in-house. As for a future Lawrence deal: As now a two-time Pro Bowler, he’ll obviously want to be paid like a top pass rusher after signing the franchise tag last year.
After a disappointing loss to the Rams, who had their way with our defensive front, what can Dallas do in the offseason to shore up the interior of the D-Line? It seems that there is a ton of young talent on the roster, but with undersized/athletic linemen, they were unable to hold their gaps versus a talented O-Line. Is there an issue to be addressed, even simply strength and conditioning? - J.M. SMITH / ST. CHARLES, MD
Bryan: This defensive line had two poor games this season. It’s not every day that you’re going to have to matchup against the Colts and Rams. They were outstanding against the Eagles and Saints, who I feel like are just as good. I like the starters Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins, but the depth could improve. Caraun Reid and Daniel Ross at times showed some positive snaps, but the depth there does need to be better and that’s where I believe you will see them address during this upcoming draft.
Rob: This is partly why that loss is so frustrating to the team. This defense has been effective up front really all season long. The only two exceptions were against the Rams and Colts. Rod Marinelli’s scheme has always been about quick, athletic linemen getting up the field. I don’t think you’ll see a major shift from that next season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if defensive tackle is a draft focus. Would’ve really helped to have David Irving in that rotation, and now he’s a free agent.