Jamison Hensley of the ESPN AFC North blog is doing a countdown of all the division’s top free agents, and coming in at #13 was the Bengals’ own Manny Lawson, whom he says the team should move on from:
The good: Lawson is a solid run defender who can play in the 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He is a sure tackler, missing just three all of last season. Lawson played in every game in his two seasons in Cincinnati, although there were some games in which he played less than half the snaps.
The bad: There were expectations that Lawson would boost the pass rush, but he managed 3.5 sacks in his two years with the Bengals. He also looked rigid in pass coverage, which is why he only broke up one pass last season.
The bottom line: The Bengals have enough cap room to upgrade from Lawson. He is only 28 and a former first-round pick, so he should catch on with another team.
According to Pro Football Focus, out of 43 eligible linebackers, Lawson ranked 37th in total snaps (363). That averages out at just 23 snaps per game in a 16-game season. His -4.9 grade was also ranked 29th. Lawson simply isn’t a fit in Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme, and likely won’t be offered a contract to return to Cincinnati when free agency begins.