Since jumping on to the scene as a second-year player back in 2015, DeMarcus Lawrence has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense.
The former second-round pick from Boise State earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017 and 2018, accumulating a total of 49 quarterback hits and 25 sacks during that span.
Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistency have plagued Lawrence since. He’s recorded all of 14.5 sacks over the past three seasons and is coming off an injury-plagued 2021 campaign that saw him miss 10 games.
This has led to renewed speculation that Lawrence could very well be the latest Dallas Cowboys salary cap casualty amid reports of a looming divorce between the team and star wide receiver Amari Cooper.
According to Calvin Watkins of Dallas News, Lawrence just recently refused to take a pay cut — placing his future in Dallas into question.
- DeMarcus Lawrence contract: 5 years, $105 million w/ $27 million cap hit in 2022
If Dallas were to trade or release Lawrence, the team would incur a $19 million dead cap hit while saving $8 million against the cap in 2022. According to Over the Cap, designating Lawrence a post-June 1 cut would save $19 million while pushing back dead cap hits to future years.
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Could the Dallas Cowboys find a trade market for DeMarcus Lawrence?
This is the same question being raised about Amari Cooper with rumors that Dallas will look to trade the star wide receiver before the start of the new league year. If not, Cooper will be released.
Dallas currently finds itself $21.16 million over the 2022 NFL salary cap. Financially, it would make more sense to designate Lawrence a post-June 1 cut despite potentially being able to acquire assets in a trade.
As for potential interest, Lawrence is limited to defenses that run 4-3 schemes. That will narrow down options when it comes to the trade market. Any team acquiring Lawrence in a trade would be on the hook for his $19 million base salary in 2022 as well as a $21 million cap hit the following season.
Given Lawrence’s downtick in production and injury issues, this would obviously be a major risk. It leads us to believe that a release is more likely.
That’s especially true with Dallas prioritizing re-signing fellow edge rusher Randy Gregory ahead of the start of free agency. It also wants to bring back wide receiver Michael Gallup. Short of moving off DeMarcus Lawrence altogether, those two scenarios seem highly unlikely.