DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Ansah and Lamarcus Joyner join Le'Veon Bell as stuck under franchise tag

Jay Asser 19:25 17/07/2018
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DeMarcus Lawrence had a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2017.

Le’Veon Bell wasn’t the only player without a contract extension when the franchise tag deadline passed, as DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Ansah and Lamarcus Joyner all remained under designation.

In the case of Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys were incentivised to play the waiting game with the defensive end after the 26-year produced a career year this past season.

Lawrence broke out with 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles while playing all 16 games, making him a hot commodity as a premium pass rusher. However, after he totaled 9.0 sacks and was hampered by injuries in his first three years, it’s fair for Dallas to wonder if his production last year was an aberration or a sign of things to come.

For now, Lawrence will make $17.1 million on the franchise tag. If the Cowboys want to tag him again next year, that annual figure will jump to around $20m.

Ansah, another one of the league’s top pass rushers, will also make $17.1m on the franchise tag this coming season.

The Detroit Lions lineman has never lacked for talent as he recorded 15.5 sacks combined in his first two years before putting together an All-Pro campaign in 2015 with 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Since then, his production hasn’t been the same as he tallied 2.0 sacks in 2016 and 12.0 this past season, but he also dealt with various injuries that may have sapped his effectiveness.

New Lions head coach Matt Patricia will get a year to examine Ansah’s value up close before the team makes a decision on his future next offseason.

The Los Angeles Rams’ decision to not hand over a lucrative deal to Joyner, meanwhile, may be related to their efforts to lock up Aaron Donald.

The defensive lineman is seeking an extension that would make him one of the highest-paid players in the league, which means a long-term contract for Joyner may hurt their spending power.

Joyner will earn $11.3 million this year after coming off a season in which he transitioned from slot cornerback to safety with great success to be one of the best players at his position in the NFL.

Bell, Lawrence, Ansah and Joyner will now bolster a strong 2019 free agent class.

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