If Lawrence and the Cowboys fail to strike a deal, the 26-year-old would be scheduled to become a free agent after this season.
Lawrence is coming off a breakout 2017 season in which he had a career-high 14.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl. He had just nine total sacks in his career entering 2017, but had been limited by foot and back injuries, as well as a suspension during his first three years.
Lawrence will make $17.143 million on the franchise tag, he made about $5.3 million as the Cowboys’ second-round pick in 2014. So he will more than triple his career earnings in 2018 under the tag.
If Lawrence is able to put up another double-digit sack season, the Cowboys could put the franchise tag on him in 2019 at roughly $20 million if the sides are unable to reach an long-term agreement.
The last time the Cowboys used the franchise tag was in 2015 on Dez Bryant. While Bryant missed almost all of the offseason program that year, there was always a sense a long-term deal would be worked out before the deadline. It went to the final minutes, but Bryant signed a five-year deal worth $70 million after putting up three straight seasons of at least 88 catches 1,233 yards and 12 touchdown catches from 2012-14.
With Lawrence, there has not been the same optimistic feeling. The Cowboys and Lawrence’s agent, David Canter, spoke at the NFL scouting combine, but it became clear a deal would not get done before the team had to use the franchise tag.
Since then, there has been virtual silence.
Information from ESPN’s Todd Archer was used in this report.