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DeMarcus Lawrence, Cowboys headed for “standoff” following second straight franchise tag

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Trouble in Dallas?

NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence for the second year in a row, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport.

This news isn’t ideal for the Cowboys. It would’ve been much more preferable for them to work out a long-term extension with their top pass rusher.

Instead, Lawrence and the Cowboys are at an impasse. Mike Garafolo said to “Get ready for a standoff. They’re not close on a deal.” Rapoport said: “Now the question is ... when will they see him next? Buckle up.” And there’s this:

Dallas using the tag on Lawrence does prevent him from entering free agency. But it also means he counts $20.5 million against the Cowboys’ cap in 2019 if/when he does sign his tender. Lawrence and the Cowboys can always lower that cap figure by agreeing to extension but, as previously noted, there’s no indication that’s close to happening.

And so Lawrence’s situation could prove to be an obstacle as the Cowboys consider their offseason plans. He won’t count against the cap until his tender is signed but Dallas will have to plan for having money available for him. Lawrence seemingly has a good amount of leverage over the Cowboys with Randy Gregory recently getting suspended indefinitely.

The Cowboys also still have other big contract decisions to make with Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and others. You sure have to wonder if paying $3.5 million to 37-year-old Jason Witten wasn’t the best idea!

Anyway, all of this is to say the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t the only team in the NFC East dealing with some cap concerns.

Another angle to consider here is that Brandon Graham’s new contract will probably continue to look more favorable in a few weeks. Lawrence being tagged means one less pass rusher on the market and that could leave teams making higher bids on the edge players who do become available.

UPDATE: Frank Clark is also reportedly getting tagged by the Seahawks. Graham could’ve been making top of the market money if he made it to free agency.