Demarcus Lawrence

Largest 2023 Cap Hits: Defense

While the NFL’s top 2023 cap hits go to players on offense, a number of pass rushers are tied to lofty figures as well. None check in higher than Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Williams and Chiefs D-tackle Chris Jones carry high contract-year cap hits, while the Steelers’ two front-seven cornerstones each are set to go into training camp with cap figures north of $20MM. As the salary cap climbed to $224.8MM this year, here are the top defensive cap figures as camps near:

  1. Leonard Williams, DL (Giants): $32.26MM
  2. T.J. Watt, OLB (Steelers): $29.37MM
  3. Myles Garrett, DE (Browns): $29.18MM
  4. Chris Jones, DT (Chiefs): $28.29MM
  5. Aaron Donald, DL (Rams): $26MM
  6. Arik Armstead, DT (49ers): $23.95MM
  7. Cameron Heyward, DL (Steelers): $22.26MM
  8. C.J. Mosley, LB (Jets): $21.48MM
  9. Jonathan Allen, DT (Commanders): $21.44MM
  10. Shaquil Barrett, OLB (Buccaneers): $21.25MM
  11. Grady Jarrett, DT (Falcons): $20.63MM
  12. Marlon Humphrey, CB (Ravens): $19.99MM
  13. Shaquille Leonard, LB (Colts): $19.79MM
  14. Kevin Byard, S (Titans): $19.62MM
  15. Adoree’ Jackson, CB (Giants): $19.08MM
  16. Harold Landry, OLB (Titans): $18.8MM
  17. Justin Simmons, S (Broncos): $18.15MM
  18. Jamal Adams, S (Seahawks): $18.11MM
  19. Matt Judon, DE (Patriots): $18.107MM
  20. Quandre Diggs, S (Seahawks): $18.1MM
  21. Nick Bosa, DE (49ers): $17.9MM
  22. DeForest Buckner, DT (Colts): $17.25MM
  23. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE (Dolphins): $17.19MM
  24. DeMarcus Lawrence, DE (Cowboys): $17.11MM
  25. Eddie Jackson, S (Bears): $17.1MM

The Chiefs are working toward a second extension agreement with Jones, who is in the final season of a four-year, $80MM contract. A new deal with the star inside pass rusher would free up cap space, and DeAndre Hopkins is believed to be monitoring this situation.

As for Williams, the Giants had wanted to adjust his deal to reduce his eye-opening cap number. As of mid-June, however, no extension appeared to be on the team’s radar. The previous Giants regime signed off on the 2021 Williams extension (three years, $63MM). The Giants are also uninterested — for the time being, at least — in extending Jackson, who was also a Dave Gettleman-era defensive addition.

Donald is in the second season of a three-year, $95MM deal. The Rams gave Donald a landmark raise last year, convincing the all-everything D-tackle to squash retirement talk. A no-trade clause exists in Donald’s contract, which pays out its guarantees this year. Mosley remains tied to the $17MM-per-year deal the Mike Maccagnan regime authorized with the Jets. That contract, which reset the off-ball linebacker market in 2019, still has two seasons remaining on it due to the deal tolling after Mosley’s 2020 COVID-19 opt-out call. The Jets restructured the deal last year.

Washington now has two D-tackles tied to deals of at least $18MM per year. While Daron Payne‘s pact is worth more ($22.5MM AAV), higher cap hits on that deal will come down the road. Three years remain on Allen’s 2021 agreement. At safety, no team is spending like the Seahawks. In addition to the big-ticket deals authorized for Adams and Diggs, Seattle gave ex-Giants starter Julian Love a two-year, $6MM accord in March.

New Titans GM Ran Carthon attempted to give Byard a pay cut. That request did not go over well, but the standout safety remains with the team and has not requested a trade. Tennessee re-signed Landry on a five-year, $87.5MM deal in 2022; the veteran edge rusher has yet to play on that deal due to the ACL tear he sustained just before last season.

The 49ers can bring Bosa’s number down via an extension, which has long been on the team’s docket. As San Francisco extended Deebo Samuel just after training camp began last year, Bosa received back-burner treatment due to the fifth-year option. The star defensive end’s price undoubtedly went up during the waiting period, with the former No. 2 overall pick earning Defensive Player of the Year acclaim in the fourth year of his rookie contract.

Restructure Details: Cousins, Bills, Cowboys, Saints, Warner, Jets, Texans

Facing a Kirk Cousins cap crunch last year, the Vikings worked out a third contract with their starting quarterback. They did not take that path this year. Minnesota instead agreed to a restructure, per’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The reworking frees up $16MM in cap space for the Vikings, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweets. The Vikes look to have tacked on two more void years to Cousins’ deal. While the void years — for cap-reducing purposes — run through 2027, Cousins’ contract expires after the 2023 season. No extension is imminent.

The 34-year-old passer has enjoyed leverage throughout his Vikings relationship — via his free agency in 2018, ahead of his 2020 contract year on that fully guaranteed deal, and in 2022 as his second Vikes pact was set to produce a historic cap hit — but Minnesota’s new regime may now be looking toward moving on after the season. This will be a situation to monitor moving forward; Cousins has not played in a contract year since his 2017 Washington finale.

Here is the latest on teams’ restructures:

  • The Bills moved close to the 2023 league year in a cap hole, but they restructured the deals of their two highest-profile players to create considerable space. Buffalo reworked Josh Allen and Von Miller‘s contracts to create approximately $32MM in space, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets. The Bills have moved their way up past $8MM in cap room.
  • Per usual, the Saints have been hard at work on restructures. They adjusted the deals of Cameron Jordan, Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore to create cap space, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Katherine Terrell (all Twitter links). The Jordan move created more than $10MM in cap space for New Orleans, which was back to being north of $20MM over the cap following its Derek Carr signing. As the league year begins, New Orleans made it under the cap by just more than $300K.
  • In addition to restructuring Tyron Smith‘s deal to ensure the All-Decade tackle plays a 13th season with the team, the Cowboys adjusted the contracts of DeMarcus Lawrence and Michael Gallup, Todd Archer of notes (Twitter links). Between them, the Lawrence and Gallup restructures freed up around $16MM for Dallas, which had already created more than $30MM in space by redoing Dak Prescott and Zack Martin‘s deals last week.
  • The 49ers restructured Fred Warner‘s extension, according to Yates (on Twitter). The move created nearly $9MM in cap space for San Francisco, which gave Javon Hargrave a four-year, $84MM deal to start the legal tampering period. A void year now exists in Warner’s contract, which runs through 2026 (with the void year coming in 2027). Warner’s cap number drops to $9MM but spikes past $24MM in 2024, which will probably prompt more maneuvering from the 49ers. They currently hold just more than $12MM in cap space.
  • Circling back to the Vikings, Jordan Hicks agreed to a restructure that will keep him in Minnesota this season,’s Adam Caplan tweets. Hicks signed a two-year, $10MM deal with the Vikings last year.
  • Amid their Aaron Rodgers pursuit, the Jets created $4.8MM in cap space by restructuring John Franklin-Myers‘ contract, Yates tweets. Two void years are attached to the defensive lineman’s pact, which runs through 2025.
  • Texans safety Eric Murray agreed to a restructured deal as well, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 notes. Attached to a two-year, $10MM deal he signed in 2022, Murray remains on a Texans team that has seen its roster become crowded at safety. The team has added Jimmie Ward and re-signed M.J. Stewart this week. Murray played 17 games for the Texans last season but did not start any. This sounds like a pay-cut agreement, with Wilson adding Murray can make up to $4MM this season.

Cowboys, DE DeMarcus Lawrence Agree To New Deal

The Cowboys asked DeMarcus Lawrence to take a pay cut, but he refused. However, the sides agreed on a deal that will lower Lawrence’s 2022 cap hit and give him additional guaranteed money.

Dallas and Lawrence agreed to terms on a three-year, $40MM deal, Tom Pelissero of tweets. This contract comes with $30MM fully guaranteed, a positive development for Lawrence, who is coming off an injury-limited season.

Lawrence’s cap hit will drop from its previously steep perch ($27MM), giving Dallas more space. The 2022 number will drop to $14MM, Todd Archer of ESPN tweets. The Cowboys will run into a similar situation in 2023, when Lawrence’s cap figure vaults to $26MM. Dallas included a void year (2025) to spread out the cap hit.

This agreement will also benefit the Pro Bowl edge rusher in his early 30s. The guarantees from his previous five-year, $105MM contract only ran through the 2021 season. With Randy Gregory free to negotiate with other teams, the Cowboys have at least ensured their cornerstone defensive end will be back.

It appeared Dallas had balked when Lawrence refused to take a pay cut, but this compromise will bump the NFC East champs’ cap space north from its present $15MM-plus place. The Cowboys have already shipped out Amari Cooper‘s five-year, $100MM contract — a deal that had a nonguaranteed three years and $60MM remaining — and let Cedrick Wilson defect to the Dolphins. The team is set to cut or trade La’el Collins.

Lawrence, 30 in April, missed 10 games after suffering a foot injury ahead of Dallas’ Week 2 game. He finished the season with just three sacks, marking the former second-round pick’s third straight season with fewer than seven sacks. The Cowboys franchise-tagged Lawrence twice, during a period in which he made two Pro Bowls, but extended him in 2019. This marks the third long-term contract Lawrence has signed with the Cowboys.

DeMarcus Lawrence Declines Cowboys’ Pay-Cut Request

FRIDAY: It appears the Cowboys asked for a hefty pay cut. They approached Lawrence about trimming his 2022 base salary from $19MM to $10MM, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Lawrence nearly halving his salary would be difficult to envision, despite his injury-altered 2021 season. With free agency less than a week away, the Cowboys will need to make a call here. Progress between the sides has proven elusive, and the Cowboys may be prepared to stand down and keep Lawrence on his present salary, Ed Werder of tweets.

MONDAY: The Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence extension has not produced the kind of production he provided on his rookie contract or as a franchise-tagged player in 2018. Lawrence missed much of last season due to a broken foot, and the Cowboys will be forced into a decision on the veteran edge rusher soon.

Dallas requested Lawrence take a pay cut, but Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports the eight-year vet declined. Pay-cut requests often precede releases. The Cowboys would save $19MM by designating Lawrence a post-June 1 cut. While the team could make the cut at any point, it would not realize the savings until after that date.

[RELATED: Cowboys Likely To Release Amari Cooper]

Lawrence, 30 in April, is coming off a three-sack season. He has not totaled more than seven sacks in a season since 2018 but has helped teammates’ sack totals, as evidenced by Robert Quinn‘s bounce-back year in 2019. Lawrence wants to stay in Dallas, per Watkins, and cutting him would run the risk of the team losing both its edge starters.

The Cowboys are not planning to use their franchise tag on Randy Gregory, Watkins tweets. That is not surprising, given Gregory’s suspension history and the D-end tag checking in at $17.9MM. The Cowboys’ loyalty to Gregory during his hiatuses will surely factor into his free agency decision, but the talented pass rusher hitting the market obviously runs the risk of a defection. That complicates Dallas’ Lawrence decision.

Jerry Jones followed through with cutting DeMarcus Ware after requesting a pay cut in 2014. Ware went on to form an elite edge-rushing duo with Von Miller in Denver, doing so as Lawrence struggled to start his career. Lawrence found his footing by 2017, combining for 25 sacks over the next two seasons. The Cowboys tagged him twice but reached a five-year, $105MM extension soon after. Lawrence carries the Cowboys’ second-highest base salary in 2022.

Latest On Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence 

Recently, DeMarcus Lawrence declined the Cowboys’ request for a pay cut. Now, with days to go before the start of the new league year, there’s been zero progress on that front, according to Jane Slater of (on Twitter). On the plus side, Slater hears that the Cowboys are making headway on a new deal with wide receiver Michael Gallup

[RELATED: Cowboys Hope To Re-Sign Wilson]

Lawrence, 30 in April, earned a five-year, $100MM+ extension following consecutive seasons with double digit sacks. Unfortunately, he hasn’t topped seven sacks since 2018 and he missed much of 2021 with a foot fracture.

The Cowboys could conceivably cut Lawrence and save $19MM if they use the post-June 1 designation. Meanwhile, they also have to consider Randy Gregory, who is out of contract. Releasing Lawrence and losing Gregory to free agency would leave the Cowboys without both of their incumbent starting edge rushers. The Cowboys could have used the franchise tag on Gregory — they chose to cuff tight end Dalton Schultz instead on Wednesday.

As it stands, Lawrence is set to earn $17MM in base salary this year. That’s the second-highest sum of anyone on the Cowboys, behind franchise quarterback Dak Prescott.

The Gallup deal — which seemed to be nearly finished last week — will reportedly pay the wide receiver upwards of $10MM per year. The Cowboys are aiming for a five-year pact, but it’s possible that Gallup’s camp is pushing for a shorter arrangement.

Cowboys Activate DE DeMarcus Lawrence

The reinforcements keep coming for the Cowboys. They will have their Pro Bowl defensive end back Thursday night. DeMarcus Lawrence is now on Dallas’ active roster, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Lawrence has not played since Week 1. Although Randy Gregory remains on IR, Lawrence will team with Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite Micah Parsons for the NFC East-leading squad. Lawrence’s activation comes a day after the Cowboys moved Amari Cooper off their reserve/COVID-19 list and back onto the active roster.

Lawrence suffered a broken foot in practice after the club’s Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers. He will aim to make a difference down the stretch. The eighth-year pass rusher has not topped 6.5 sacks since signing his big-ticket extension in 2019, but his presence will be a welcome one for a Cowboys squad that has kept moving Parsons around the formation due to D-end unavailability.

The two-time Pro Bowler didn’t miss a game for the Cowboys between the 2017 and 2020 seasons, averaging more than nine sacks per season. He started Dallas’s first game of the 2021 campaign, collecting five tackles while appearing in 66 percent of his team’s defensive snaps.

Cowboys Designate DeMarcus Lawrence For Return

The Cowboys have designated defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence for return, as Doug Kyed of The Athletic tweets. The two-time Pro Bowler is back on the practice field today, and his 21-day activation window is officially open.

Per ESPN’s Ed Werder, Dallas is targeting next Thursday’s matchup with the Saints for Lawrence’s return to game action (Twitter link). Lawrence suffered a broken foot in practice after the club’s Week 1 loss to the Bucs, and he has been on injured reserve ever since.

Lawrence, 29, has yet to replicate the double-digit sack totals that he posted across the 2017-18 seasons, but he remains a key component of Dallas’ defensive front. He is a highly-effective run-stopper, and despite the drop-off in sack numbers, Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics have consistently pegged him as a top-tier edge defender. His return, and the imminent returns of fellow D-linemen Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore, will be a massive boost to the Cowboys’ playoff push.

Dallas has lost another defender to injury, however. The team announced that it has placed safety Donovan Wilson, who is dealing with chest and shoulder ailments, on IR.

Wilson, a 2019 sixth-rounder, started 10 games for the Cowboys last season, notching 71 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three passes defensed. He suffered a groin injury in training camp this year and aggravated the injury in Week 1, which forced him to miss the next four games. He was gradually eased back into action, and he started both of Dallas’ last two contests. On the season, he has 18 tackles and a pass defensed, and he presently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ 46th-best safety out of 91 qualifiers.

Latest On Cowboys’ D-Line Injuries

The Cowboys should be getting a major boost to their front seven within the month. Defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, both currently on IR, could be back in action in the next three to four weeks, per club VP Stephen Jones (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). DT Neville Gallimore is on the same timeline.

Dallas responded to its surprising loss at the hands of the Broncos in Week 9 by administering a thorough dismantling of the Falcons last week, and the 7-2 outfit has the makings of a legitimate championship contender. Getting back two of their top pass rushers would, of course, go a long way towards a deep playoff run.

Lawrence played in the Cowboys’ season opener but then suffered a broken foot in practice, which has kept him on the sidelines ever since. The 29-year-old has not been producing the type of gaudy sack totals that he amassed over the 2017-18 seasons — which helped earn him a five-year, $105MM contract in March 2019 — but he is still a key piece of Dallas’ defensive front.

Gregory, after missing a great deal of time due to suspensions over his first few seasons in the league, had posted five sacks and 12 QB hits through seven games this year before suffering a calf injury in practice earlier this month. He is out of contract at season’s end, and if he continues to play well when he returns, he could be in line for a nice payday. The current expectation is that the club will explore a long-term pact with him this offseason.

Gallimore, a 2020 third-rounder, started nine games in his rookie campaign and was expected to serve as a starter again this year. A dislocated elbow has kept him on the shelf all season, but if nothing else, he could be a useful rotational piece on the interior of the D-line. Third-round rookie Osa Odighizuwa and veteran Carlos Watkins have not been especially effective as the Cowboys’ starting DT tandem in 2021.

DeMarcus Lawrence To Miss 6-8 Weeks

Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence had surgery on his broken foot earlier today, according to head coach Mike McCarthy (Twitter link via Todd Archer of The recovery will rule him out for the next 6-8 weeks, but McCarthy believes Lawrence will be back before the season is through.

The Cowboys have placed Lawrence on IR. The league’s short-term IR allows players to return after as little as three missed games, though the Cowboys won’t see Lawrence until November, at the earliest.

Obviously, losing DeMarcus, he’s a prime-time player for us. I thought he had a nice start in Tampa,” McCarthy said. “You hate to see these injuries to any of your guys, but what it does is it gives opportunities to the other players. How we will spread that out will be done through game plan. We’ll work on that today, tomorrow and Saturday. Specifically, we’ll get into that when we play the game.”

In the near term, they’ll have to get by without Lawrence and possibly Randy Gregory after his positive COVID-19 test. Dallas was already in an iffy spot with their D-Line — they were just one of two NFL teams without a sack in Week 1. That leaves them with less appealing options, such as Dorance Armstrong and Tarell Basham, backed by reserve DEs Bradlee Anae and Chauncey Golston.

Lawrence, a two-time Pro Bowler, notched 25 sacks between 2017 and 2018. He hasn’t approached that production since, but he was still solid in 2019 and 2020, collecting 11.5 sacks and 26 QB hits in 32 games (31 starts). From his sole game this year, he’s got five tackles and one forced fumble.

Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence Suffers Broken Foot, Out Indefinitely

DeMarcus Lawrence is out indefinitely. The Cowboys defensive end suffered a broken foot at practice and will be sidelined for the foreseeable future, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The news was first reported by Joe Trahan of WFAA (on Twitter).

It’s uncertain if the injury will end Lawrence’s season, reports Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus notes (on Twitter) that “there’s optimism it’s not season-ending,” while one source tells NFL Network’s Jane Slater that Lawrence will be sidelined for six to eight weeks (Twitter link). Rapoport has clarified that Lawrence broke the fifth-metatarsal in his foot and will need surgery, but if everything goes well, the pass rusher could be back by November.

This is a tough break for the Cowboys and their depleted pass rush, especially since Randy Gregory could also miss this weekend’s game after testing positive for COVID-19. Dallas was one of only two teams without a sack in Week 1, and their pass-rushing hopes will now depend on the likes of journeyman Tarell Basham.

Lawrence earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods in 2017 and 2018 after combining for 25 sacks between the two seasons. He hasn’t come close to matching that production since, but he was still productive in 2019 and 2020, collecting 11.5 sacks and 26 QB hits in 32 games (31 starts). The veteran started the offseason on PUP as he recovered from back surgery, but he still got back in time to appear in Week 1. He collected five tackles and one forced fumble in that contest.

It’s been a rough few days for the Cowboys after losing their season-opener to the Buccaneers. Lawrence fractured his foot, Gregory tested positive, right tackle La’el Collins was suspended, and receiver Michael Gallup was sidelined for at least the next month.