DeMarcus Lawrence: 'I just want to be the best'

Cowboys franchise tag Lawrence in hopes of reaching long-term deal (1:17)

The NFL Live crew reacts to the Cowboys' placing the franchise tag on Pro Bowl DE DeMarcus Lawrence after he put up a career-best 14.5 sacks last season. (1:17)

FRISCO, Texas -- Fresh off signing the franchise tag tender worth $17.143 million on Monday, Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has his eyes on something bigger for the future.

“At first I was kind of like, ‘Man, I’m supposed to get a long-term deal, but you know what? It’s a golden opportunity for me to go out and show them I’m really worth the money,” Lawrence said. “And plus, my number will be bigger next year, and I can add a couple extra dollars in my pocket. That’s how I look at it. Instead of being mad about something I can’t control, you go out and embrace it.”

The Cowboys and Lawrence’s agent, David Canter, can still work out a long-term deal by mid-July. Without one, Lawrence would play the 2018 season on the franchise tag. The Cowboys made an offer at the NFL scouting combine, but it was not enough to get into serious discussions on a long-term deal.

Lawrence said he will attend the voluntary offseason program and organized team activities.

“I’m still going to be the same guy I always been,” Lawrence said. “I’m true to my teammates regardless of the circumstances. You have to understand I made $1 million last year, and I was at everything. Why change now?”

Fully healthy for the first time in his career, Lawrence produced greatly in 2017. He had a career-high 14.5 sacks in 2017 and earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. He also had 52 quarterback pressures, the most by a Cowboy since Hall of Famer Charles Haley had 52 in 1994.

In 2014, he missed the first eight games of the season because of a broken foot suffered in training camp. He led the Cowboys with eight sacks in 2015 despite a bulging disc that eventually required two surgeries, one before the 2016 season, which played a part in his recording one sack, and one after.

In addition to the sacks and pressures, the Cowboys’ coaches credited him with 43 tackles and six tackles for loss.

“I went back and watched film on myself last year for a couple games just to try to see my main focus on what I need to work at and how I can get better. And help the team, that’s the main thing,” Lawrence said. “I just want to be the best. If you see DeMarcus Lawrence walking down the street, like, he’s the best defensive end of all time. That’s what I want to be known as. You’ve got to keep working in order to get there. I feel like I laid the foundation last year for myself.”