The Cincinnati Bengals simply can’t let Carl Lawson walk in free agency
By Zac Swain
Carl Lawson has what it takes to be one of the best pass rushers, a fact that forces the Cincinnati Bengals to re-sign him.
Carl Lawson, selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft by the Bengals, made an impact as soon as he was given playing time. The former Auburn Tiger showed major talent in his rookie season and finished the year with eight and a half sacks, along with 21 quarterback hits.
Unfortunately, in 2018, Lawson wasn’t able to build off his promising rookie year due to a major injury. He tore his ACL in week eight against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, causing him to finish the season with only one sack.
Lawson showed that he has what it takes to be one of the best after the performances he pieced together in his rookie campaign. Three years later in 2020, he is finally showing that he is back to doing what he does best: getting to the quarterback.
Lawson was the only Bengal disrupting the opposers passing game in 2020
Lawson finished the season leading the Bengals’ defensive line in sacks (5.5), QB hits (32), tackles for loss (6), and forced fumbles (2).
Not only was Lawson leading the Bengals in multiple categories, but he was also top of the league in others. He led the NFL in QB knockdowns with 23 and ranked seventh in QB pressures with 41.
The 25-year-old rusher was the only reason any opposing quarterback felt like they didn’t have all day to throw the ball. Without Lawson, many would have felt like they were back in college playing against the worst team in their division.
Sam Hubbard was the closest Bengal to Lawson in pressures, racking up 17 throughout the 2020 campaign. Even though Hubbard was the closest, he wasn’t anywhere near Lawson, finishing with 24 fewer pressures.
Cincinnati’s defensive line should be much better in 2021
One of the reasons Cincinnati’s defensive line was so bad in 2020 was due to injury. One of the franchise’s all-time leaders in sacks, Geno Atkins, was dealing with injuries all year, which kept him from playing up to the standards fans have grown accustomed to.
D.J. Reader, one of the front office’s biggest free-agent signings in years, was sidelined with a season-ending injury in week five against the Baltimore Ravens. Not to mention, the Queen City’s talented homegrown product, Sam Hubbard, was sidelined that same week with a shoulder injury, throwing him out of rhythm.
If Cincinnati brings back Lawson and the rest of these guys come into the 2021 season healthy, it should be a much better year for Lou Anarumo’s unit.
If the Bengals let Carl Lawson walk, they better prepare their defensive backs to cover longer than they’re used to because opposing signal-callers will have all day to throw. This would almost guarantee a disaster for the Bengals’ entire defense. The quarterback terrorizer must return if Cincinnati wants to have at least a decent defense in 2021.