Demarcus Lawrence will reportedly play out the 2018 season on the franchise tag.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Lawrence and the Dallas Cowboys failed to agree to a long-term contract by Monday's deadline, leaving him no choice but to play on the $17.1 million tag. The 26-year-old has been inconsistent through his first four NFL seasons but set career highs across the board in 2017.
Lawrence racked up 58 tackles and 14.5 sacks, earning his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. He recorded just nine sacks in his first three seasons.
"I know how to play the game, too," Lawrence told reporters. "I might not play the game just the way everybody else play their game, but I know if I keep putting in that work and do what I need to do on the field, they're going to sign me. So I'm not really worried about it."
The Cowboys are going to need Lawrence to take a more vocal leadership role after the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the former released and the latter retiring to join ESPN's broadcast booth for Monday Night Football.
That said, Lawrence and the team will be far more interested in his matching his 2017 production and proving it wasn't a one-year fluke. It was a virtual certainty that he would play under the franchise tag this season, with a potential long-term contract coming a year from now if Lawrence plays at a Pro Bowl level.
If not, that long-term contract may come from somewhere else.