Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence
Q. I know it's kind of taboo in corporate America and outside, but how often do you guys amongst yourselves talk about contracts and hey, I need to get this or what do I need to get in terms of my contract?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I'd say the group I'm around, it's not like a big conversation. The people I surround myself with, we just talk about being great, and whatever comes with being great comes with being great. Obviously, everybody loves to get paid. Everybody loves to have money, but at the end of the day the people I'm around, we talk about how to win and how to be great.
Q. What was important to you with this deal? What did you want from it, the amount and what was important to you?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I don't think the amount to me was that important – just being respected and understanding who I am as a player and what I'm worth. I didn't have a set number in mind or anything like that. I just knew that I wanted to be respected for my production and my leadership around here and everything else.
Q. When you saw the (Titans Defensive Tackle Jeffrey) Simmons numbers come in, obviously Jeffrey's deal, that sort of was a little bit of a benchmark. Was there any thought from your end to wait to see what (Jets Defensive Lineman) Quinnen (Williams) would have gotten?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Like I said, for me, I wasn't out here trying to set records or do anything like that. I was just trying to be respected. The market was the market. At the end of the day, I'm happy with my contract. That's why signed. I'm ready to get out here and play football with my guys.
Q. Did you fly up here today or last night?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yeah, I flew up this morning.
Q. Were you hanging out back home?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I was in Florida training.
Q. What did it actually feel like to take that pen and sign that -- and guarantee that much money?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I think all of my excitement happened like five minutes after my agent called me and was like, 'Okay, we've got the deal.' It took me a second to process it. My mom, my lady was in town in Florida, so that was good. We got to do our little happy dance, so that was cool. It was great. Signed the papers today. This was a release. It was a stressful little time, but it's over now, and it's time to play football.
Q. Can you characterize how the contract negotiations go with the Giants? Did they keep the lines of communication open with you, make you feel appreciated and wanted?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yeah, I would say it went smoothly, both sides. I respect (General Manager) Joe (Schoen), and he respected me, so (there) wasn't a lot of disrespect going on. Just almost like casual conversation. It was good. It was healthy. At the end of the day, both sides in negotiation, both sides have to be here and there a little uncomfortable, I think, but at the end of the day, I saw him today, smiles. It was fun. Obviously, you have head-butt moments, but at the end of the day I love them, and they respect me.
Q. What teammates other than Leonard (Williams) have you heard from?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: A lot of guys were calling me. My phone was going crazy. I was playing NBA2K (laughs) as part of my celebration, but my phone was going crazy. I got back to as many people as I could. Everybody was excited for me, and I'm just ready to go.
Q. When you talk about being great, there are a lot of good defensive tackles, a lot of them paid and some of them in front of you, some of them behind you. Where do you feel like you are among some of the great defensive tackles in this league?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I feel like I'm definitely up there. I have a lot more to go. I missed a lot of plays last year that I know I can get, and it eats at me a lot. Right now, it's just continuing to master my craft and finishing on plays that I could have made last year. Comparing myself between everybody, I'm not really that type of guy, I just know my standard for myself, and I know what I can do and what I can produce.
Q. Did the Eagles loss stick with you this off-season?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yeah, I don't like that. Too many times.
Q. Will you be part of the voluntary program now? Do you expect to be here every single day?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: You know, I'll be back with my guys. I'm excited. There's still stuff I've got to take care of. I've been in constant communication with the coaches. It's voluntary, so we'll talk about it.
Q. I'm sure there were emotions on both sides. Was there any point when the emotions and negotiations were going on that you got a little nervous, your mind starts playing games with you, is this going to happen?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yeah, I think that's with anything. You keep going back and forth, like, 'Oh, should you push this, should you push that.' But at the end of the day, I was confident in who I thought they knew who I was as a player, so that gave me the confidence to counter some things, and they came back with some things, and if it didn't look right, I still had the confidence in myself to know who I am for this team and the player I am for this team. Sometimes it's nervous, but I prayed about it a lot, and now I've got the opportunity to change my kids' kids' lives – and I'm happy about that.
Q. Did playing for this coaching staff at all cross your mind in terms of the progress all of you made, you included, I believe, last season under Wink and the rest of the staff? Did that matter here?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yeah, through the whole process, I was like, 'I want to play here, I want to be a Giant,' through the whole process. We have something going here, we're building something special, and you can see it from the outside and inside it's even more beautiful. I'm excited for what's going on. Like I said, the whole process I was in communication like, 'this is where I want to be,' and we got it done.
Q. How much more pressure do you feel to live up to the contract?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I don't feel pressure like that.
Q. Why not?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Simply because I prepare myself, and I know who I am as a player, and I know what I can do, and I know if I'm on top of what I've got to do, then everything takes care of itself. I'll master my craft, continue to do that, and I don't feel pressure going into games. I don't feel pressure -- this is obviously a big deal, but the pressure for me is just -- I don't see it as pressure. I embrace it. I embrace having to step up and prove -- that's what I take it as, proving my worth, continuing to do that. That's just a stepping-stone for me right now.
Q. Think back to your rookie mini-camp when you and Daniel (Jones) made a point to room together at training camp. You always said you were his biggest defender; you would defend him. The last couple months, he signed his contract, you signed your contract. If we had told you back on day one when you were together, what would have been your reaction when I threw those numbers at you?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I hope so (Laughter). I can't explain it. I'm an in-the-moment type of guy, and right now it's just beautiful to see both of us just do what's not expected, what doesn't happen a lot. The NFL career is short for a lot of people, and we've got a chance to keep playing for a team we got drafted by and continuing to play for the organization and the fans, and we're excited about it. We talk.
Q. What do you want to buy?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: (Laughs) A lake house probably. I'm a chill guy.
Q. Dexter, you did all the work, obviously, but (Defensive Coordinator) Wink Martindale came in and kind of switched your position up a little bit. Can you talk about that impact, and was he one of the first people you called once this deal was done?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: We didn't talk a lot, him and I didn't talk a lot through the process, but I knew guys were relaying messages from him saying that he missed me, and he just wanted to see my face again.
Q. Did you miss him?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I did, I did. I love Wink, and his impact as a coordinator for us is amazing. He gives us the keys. He lets us run the defense. A lot of coaches preach that, but he actually lives by that, and he'll tell you how it is, he'll tell you how he feels, and it's up to you to embrace it and run with it.
Q. How deserving do you think (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) is to be the next guy to get his done, and how much conversation is there amongst the leaders of the team?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I think Saquon is going to get what he deserves. He's a great player. He's a great leader for us, one of the top players on the team. I'm excited to see what's up for him.
Q. Why won't the big money change Dexter Lawrence?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Because I've just never been that person. Very humble, kind guy, joyful. Money is just what I have now. It's not who I am as a person and doesn't characterize me. What I want to be known as is just a guy that genuinely cares about people and a guy that has earned a lot of respect in a good way.
Q. You were obviously a good player in this league before this year, but this past year you kind of took it to the next level. Your ability to get this contract and this amount of money, a lot of it's attributed to that. How much credit do you give them putting you at nose tackle and (Defensive Line Coach) Andre Patterson coming in and sort of getting that out of you? Do you look at that as a big part of why you were able to get what you just got?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I would say I'm a disrupter. I'd say a disrupter.
Q. You're talking position-wise?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yes. I'm a disrupter, yes. I'll say I think it was just the team that they built around, having guys like Azeez (Ojulari) when he was showing up, (Kayvon Thibodeaux) Thibs, Leo, (Justin Ellis) Jelly, guys like that, and then the coaches helping you create that confidence, continuing to help you master your craft, I think it was a whole totality of that, other than my position change. I played a little 4, 3, 0, 1, just played one more than the other.
Q. You played over the center more; that's probably the best way to say it.
DEXTER LAWRENCE: Yeah. I think I just learned my craft better and mastered it a little more. I still have work to do, but I think that was just the confidence I built from that helped me be as productive as I was.
Q. When you were a rookie, could you have dreamed or imagined signing this kind of contract?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: No. Like I said, I would say I was naïve to a sense. I'm a moment-by-moment guy. Okay, I did this. My ultimate goal is to be legendary, to be a Hall of Famer. I got drafted. That's one step. Okay, let's have a good rookie year. Let's not make the same mistakes the next year. Let's keep building until you get to where you're at, and I'm not where I'm at now, where I want to be. I think it's just a constant growth, as a person honestly and then as a player.
Q. Where do you want to be?
DEXTER LAWRENCE: I want to be a Hall of Famer.