FRISCO, Texas –DeMarcus Lawrence's contract expired after the 2017 season, but the Cowboys don't plan on letting the Pro Bowl pass rusher leave Dallas.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones reiterated Thursday night that the team hopes to work out a long-term contract with Lawrence first before using the one-year, guaranteed franchise tag as a backup option.
"We won't let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year," Jones said at the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award ceremony. "We'll do everything we can to try to make something work, and if we don't get it done then we'll franchise him. Then we'll go back to work."
The Cowboys have until March 6 to place the franchise tag on Lawrence if a long-term deal can't be reached before then. According to unofficial projections, the one-year franchise figure for defensive ends could be between $17-18 million.
The Cowboys then would have until July 16 to complete a long-term deal, as they did with Dez Bryant three years ago, or Lawrence would play the 2018 season under the one-year franchise tag.
Lawrence made his first Pro Bowl with 14.5 sacks, tying for second most in the league.
"We'd like to not have that franchise tag hanging out there," Jones said. "There's a big negotiation ahead of us. But we don't want DeMarcus Lawrence going anywhere. We think a lot of him."