Each year, there are players who need to step up their game. Usually those times coincide when a player has a contract that is about to be up and he needs to get paid. Last year for the Dallas Cowboys, it was Morris Claiborne who had the pressure on him, this season, it’s defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
Just like with Mo, Lawrence has been a bit of a disappointment, wrapped around flashes of greatness. Lawrence’s career began with a broken foot in training camp that forced him to miss the first few games of his rookie year. In his second season, the defensive end they call ‘Tank’ had his best year playing next to Greg Hardy. Lawrence flourished during the second half of his sophomore year and finished with eight sacks.
While it seemed like Lawrence was on the rise, he had back surgery after the 2015 season and was then hit with a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Trying to answer the bell when he did play in 2016, Lawrence collected just one sack and underwent his second back surgery this off-season.
Furthermore, the optics for how the defensive end physically looks this off-season resembles more of an actual tank than they do of an edge rusher. Lawrence appeared in photos for workouts a few months ago looking well over what his playing weight should be.
That’s an awful lot of baggage for a dude the Cowboys have been counting on to rush the passer. And because of Lawrence’s disappointing first three seasons, the team had to continue to use premium draft picks at the position.
If there was ever a time for DeMarcus Lawrence to live up to his potential, it’s this year. Not only would it help him get a shiny new contract, maybe with the Cowboys, but it would also be a huge boost to Dallas’ biggest weakness. The talent is there, if Lawrence can put it all together it would be a big help for the Cowboys making a deep Super Bowl run.
For his part, Lawrence believes he can do it. He told the Star-Telegram last week that a one-sack year wasn’t him and that he should be a 10 sacks a year kind of guy. So far, there has been limited evidence of that for Lawrence, but 2017 would be a great time to start. It would help his team, and his pocket book.
The Dallas Cowboys might not re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018, but they need the production that proves he is worth a lucrative second contract. Luckily, the timing for Lawrence to have a big season matches up with what the Cowboys need from him.
Getting that production remains to be seen. There’s no time like the present.
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