The Buffalo Bills made a nice move to start off free agency by adding former Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Manny Lawson to a contract over four years, per Adam Caplan via Twitter. Lawson is a solid, scheme-versatile OLB who plays the run tough and can put consistent pressure on the quarterback. While he doesn’t get many sacks, Lawson brings the heat and influences the quarterback’s decisions in the pocket.
Although Lawson didn’t have his best year last season, he still made a decent impact as a pass rusher and was average against the run. However, he struggled mightily in coverage, and one of the reasons why he is better in a 3-4 than a 4-3 is because of his coverage skills. Still, Lawson makes a lot of sense for the Bills, because they could really use another strong-side pass rusher in the 4-3.
I think Manny Lawson will be able to win the starting gig, and the Bills have big plans for him judging by the fact that they gave the 28-year-old N.C. State product a four-year contract. Lawson didn’t seem to have a big market, and the Bengals didn’t seem too cautious with regards to keeping him in Cincy.
The Bills are getting somebody who can make a strong impact against the run at outside linebacker, and that’s something the Bills could definitely use. They should also like the boost that he gives them in pass protection, and they are better off allowing him to go after the quarterback rather than move back into coverage. Even though that doesn’t happen often for 4-3 OLBs- especially when compared to the duties of a 3-4 OLB- Lawson can be used in that manner.
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