The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with a couple of key players this offseason, but Demarcus Lawrence was not one of them.
Instead, he signed an extension that he hopes will keep him in Dallas through retirement.
"Being a Cowboy for life is always a dream," Lawrence said Thursday, via the Dallas Morning News' Michael Gehlken. "I was blessed with the opportunity to do so. There is no reason why I would go against my aspirations and dream of being a Cowboy for life."
Lawrence has been in Dallas since 2014, but a difficult 2021 season put his future with the Cowboys in doubt. While Dallas enjoyed a turnaround that included an NFC East title, Lawrence was limited to just seven games. With a salary cap number that appeared to be pushing the then-cap-strapped Cowboys toward moving on from Lawrence, there was legitimate fear he'd played his final game in Dallas.
Then the Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to Cleveland and released right tackle La'el Collins, clearing enough space to retain Lawrence on a three-year, $40 million deal (with $30 million in guaranteed money) that also fit him more efficiently into their financial plans. They nearly kept his pass-rushing mate, Randy Gregory, as well, but Gregory ultimately decided to move to Denver.
"It was a shock to me," Lawrence said of Gregory's decision to sign with the Broncos. "I heard the news just like everyone else. 'Randy signed with the Cowboys,' and after my workout, I got home and saw on Instagram Randy had signed with the Broncos."
Lawrence wished the best for Gregory, but can't waste time wishing he still had the Nebraska product as his teammate. Instead, he'll have a new arrival to get to know in Dante Fowler.
"I actually don't know a lot about his game," Lawrence said. "I know DQ (defensive coordinator Dan Quinn) coached him back in Atlanta a couple years ago. ... I know that he's coming in here to help us win. He's coming to get better, and shoot, that's all I can ask from a guy."
All Lawrence can ask from himself is better luck when it comes to his health. 2021 was the first season in which Lawrence didn't play the full slate of regular-season games since 2016, and when he's available, he's proven to be productive. Lawrence recorded 25 sacks between the 2017 and 2018 seasons -- his two Pro Bowl campaigns -- before sliding backward in 2019 and 2020, the last two seasons before Quinn's arrival (and Dallas' defensive turnaround) in 2021.
With Lawrence now contractually secure and Quinn back for a second season, the Cowboys will look to be even better on the defensive side of the ball. They can expect to have a cornerstone of the franchise ready to go in 2022 -- and through 2024.