Posted March 13, 2013

Manny Lawson signs with Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills, NFL Free Agency
Manny Lawson had 39 tackles and two sacks in 2012. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Manny Lawson had 39 tackles and two sacks in 2012. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills endured a tough Day 1 of free agency, doing little beyond cutting colossal disappointment Ryan Fitzpatrick and watching division-mate Miami scoop up high-profile players.

Day 2 began much more positively for the Bills, thanks to a smart, under-the-radar move. That move: Buffalo signed versatile linebacker Manny Lawson, formerly of the Bengals.

The 28-year-old Lawson (who will turn 29 in August) was slowly squeezed out of Cincinnati’s linebacker rotation last season. He may have better luck in Buffalo, where the Bills are a tad thin at LB — and particularly could use a little pass-rushing pop from that position.

Lawson brings just such an attribute to the table. He had just 3.5 sacks over two seasons in Cincinnati’s 4-3 look, but he recorded 14.5 sacks playing mainly out of the 3-4 in San Francisco from 2006-10, including 6.5 in 2009.

The Bills had been in a 3-4 up until last year, when they switched to a 4-3. However, new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has preferred the former look in the past, and he figures to incorporate at least some 3-4 looks with Buffalo’s 2013 defense.

A hybrid D could play right into Lawson’s hands, as he attempts to revitalize his career.

Grade: B. Lawson reportedly will earn $12 million over four years — a reasonable contract for a player Buffalo clearly expects to utilize in the coming seasons. Lawson ought to help the defense move forward under Pettine’s watch.

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