Shaq Lawson, the Buffalo Bills Defensive End who was a first round draft pick by the team in 2016 (19th overall), had his fifth year team option declined. It is a smart move by both teams as the option would have cost the Bills around ten million dollars and it would have been fully guaranteed as well. As a result it gives the team cap flexibility in 2020 and they could give him a long-term deal for lesser money, possibly similar to what the they did to sign Trent Murphy away from the Washington Redskins, a three-year, 21 million dollar contract in this case.
Alternatively, now it is a contract year for Lawson and it could fire him up to play hard and ball out all year now earning a larger contract in the process from the Bills or another team after the season. Shaq has always been proficient against the run; although, that doesn’t get all the attention that a Quarterback sack does. Shaq has only had ten in his three seasons in Buffalo while having twelve tackles for loss as well. Playing behind someone like Jerry Hughes has not helped his production; however, as a first-round selection, his numbers should be considerably higher.
Look at Bruce Smith for example, easily the best defensive player the Bills ever had and he’s remembered for all the quarterback sacks he had; but he was also excellent against the run, teams would deliberately run most offensive plays away from number 78.
All and all, it should be an interesting season for Shaq Lawson as a member of the Buffalo Bills, if he plays his best football, he could play himself in a large, long-term deal. However, by the same token he could disappoint and get a small and short-term deal only to prove himself sooner than later all over again.