By placing the franchise tag on Lawrence for the second straight year, the Cowboys at least bought some time in getting a long-term deal done with their two-time Pro Bowl defensive end even if it might temporarily upset him.
With the other four, the Cowboys do not need to hurry on deals. Cooper, Prescott and Jones are under contract through 2019. Elliott can be under contract through 2020.
So, what about the other free agents-to-be?
Not counting Lawrence and linebacker Justin March-Lillard, who re-signed last week, the Cowboys have 12 players set to hit the open market on Wednesday, and nine played roles, big and small, last season.
Cole Beasley, WR: (Update: The Bills intend to sign Beasley.) He is likely to have a robust market, and by the time of this posting could already have a deal in which the Cowboys cannot compete. He is a valuable part of the offense as a slot receiver. He had 75 catches in Prescott's first year as the starter and 65 receptions in 2018. The New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos could be in the mix for Beasley. The Cowboys have made offers to keep Beasley, but nothing to his liking. He turns 30 next month but has missed only one game in the past five seasons (in 2017). Without Beasley, the Cowboys will have to find a replacement, which brings us to ...
Tavon Austin, WR: He suffered a groin injury and missed nine games in his first season with the Cowboys. He caught eight passes (but for 140 yards) and had two touchdowns. In the playoffs, he showed he had some juice left as a punt returner. He is two years removed from a 58-catch season with the Los Angeles Rams. He can be a change-of-pace running back as well.
David Irving, DT: Last week, Irving said he was done with the NFL until the drug policy changed, perhaps unaware that the NFL broke up with him first by suspending him indefinitely. He is immensely talented and the Cowboys were willing to put up with a lot over the years, but he will not be back, even if owner and general manager Jerry Jones does not completely slam the door. When coaches cannot say for sure a player likes to play football, then there should be no doubt he will not return.
L.P. Ladouceur, LS: He has been the Cowboys' long-snapper since 2005 and there does not appear to be a good reason why he won't return. He would like a multiyear deal, but the Cowboys are content to pay him a year at a time with the minimum salary benefit contract that makes him among the league's highest-paid long-snappers.
Cameron Fleming, OT: Remember the disaster for the Cowboys in replacing Tyron Smith in 2017? Well, Fleming performed well in Smith's absence in 2018. He could find a team willing to give him a better chance to start at right tackle. If the Cowboys don't re-sign him, then they need to add a swing tackle. Maybe former Cowboy Jermey Parnell, who was cut by Jacksonville last week, could be an option. Regardless of what happens, the Cowboys need to think about drafting a future starter, given Smith's injury history and La'el Collins going into the final year of his deal.
Jamize Olawale, FB: He played in every game and was a solid special-teamer, leading the club in tackles. He is not a prototypical fullback, but for what the Cowboys want from the position, he is good enough. The dropped touchdown pass at Indianapolis last December did not help.
Rod Smith, RB: It is difficult being Elliott's backup. Carries are few and far between. Smith was better in 2017 in part because of Elliott's suspension and his increased workload. He helps on all special teams. He has decent hands. He can be a short-yardage back if needed. He can be serviceable if Elliott misses time. Does he want a chance at more work somewhere else, though?
Geoff Swaim, TE: The return of Jason Witten does not help his chances of coming back. Neither do the injuries. He put up career highs in yards and catches before a wrist injury ended his 2018 season. Swaim will have a chance to earn more playing time elsewhere, similar to what happened with another late-round tight end, John Phillips, years ago.
Damien Wilson, LB: He did not miss a game in four years and made 22 starts. He has some position flexibility, but the Cowboys look like they are ready to move on. They reworked Sean Lee's contract over the weekend. They picked up the option on Joe Thomas's deal. They re-signed March-Lillard.