The Cowboys signed defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a one-year voidable contract extension, the team announced Friday.
Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the move was made for “salary cap purposes,” as $15 million of Lawrence’s 2020 base salary was converted into a signing bonus, creating $12 million in cap space. As alluded, the arrangement also adds one nullifiable year onto the two-time Pro Bowler’s current deal.
For Lawrence, this helps provide financial security amid the COVID-19 landscape, ensuring he’s compensated no matter if games are played. Remember, he admitted prior to training camp that, with a pregnant wife at home, he considered opting out of the season. He didn’t, and this bit of bookkeeping makes that decision easier to swallow.
Lawrence, 28, is entering the second of the five-year, $105 million deal he inked in April 2019, which included $65 million guaranteed. Now signed through 2024, he’s set to count “only” $9.9 million against the cap this season, a number that balloons to $25 million — franchise quarterback money — in 2021.
He’s vowed to give Dallas a better return on investment coming off a nondescript five-sack campaign.
“It’s not a one-man game, and I know how to play the game the right way,” Lawrence said in May. “I know how to make plays when plays come my way. And I also know how to make sure my teammates are making their plays. You don’t have to worry about nothing. Trust me, the sack number will be back up.”
For Prescott, this is more good news. After beat writers speculated similar restructurings of All-Pro offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were executed with the QB in mind, the Cowboys finally admitted as much via their official website.
It will cost at least $37.7 million, the estimated value of the 2021 franchise tag, to retain Dak, scheduled for unrestricted free agency next offseason. At least. He’s expected to garner more than $40 million annually on a long-term pact, be it from the Cowboys or a different suitor, following Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson’s respective windfalls.
And the club is stacking its shekels in advance.
“The reasoning for these maneuvers likely has nothing to do with a splashy new acquisition,” in-house reporter David Helman wrote. “Rather, it’s more about players specifically on the roster – like an expensive young quarterback, for example.”
“It would be tough enough to pay Dak Prescott in 2021 if things were normal,” Helman said. “Putting another franchise tag on him next year would cost the Cowboys $37.7 million, and signing him to a long-term extension would obviously be much more expensive than that.”
Between Lawrence, Smith ($6.6 million), and Martin ($8 million), the Cowboys generated over $27 million of rollable capital. The 2021 NFL salary cap is forecasted to be roughly $175 million, down from $198.2 million this year, due to the pandemic.
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