Could Shaq Lawson Breakout For the Buffalo Bills?

The Buffalo Bills held an off-season reunion during free agency, bringing back some fan favorites to the team. Among those is defensive end Shaq Lawson. Lawson is a big energy guy who was originally drafted by the Bills back in 2016. Lawson was one of the few players who survived the roster makeover after the Rex Ryan days. At one point, he even was a big piece of now Bills’ head coach, Sean Mcdermott’s defense. After bouncing around the league for a bit, could a return to Buffalo be the key to unlocking a breakout year?  

Lawson By the Numbers 

The then, Rex Ryan led Buffalo Bills, selected Shaq Lawson 19th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Lawson appeared in only 10 games because of off-season shoulder surgery. Since game one, Lawson proved to be an excellent run defender on the edge. In 50 career games for Buffalo, Lawson posted 108 tackles, 16.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, 25 tackles for loss and 38 quarterback hits. His best years were when he returned to his natural, hand in the dirt, 4-3 defensive end position under McDermott. Lawson also helped to provide a spark, bringing energy to every game and helping keep the team fired up. Energy is a very underrated element in football and Lawson has plenty of it.  

Lawson’s Journey Outside the Buffalo Bills 

After his rookie contract expired, Lawson left Buffalo and signed with the Miami Dolphins. The two sides agreed on a three-year $30 million dollar deal. He reportedly chose Miami’s deal over an offer from Buffalo of $27 million for three years. Lawson stated that he wanted to be closer to home (South Carolina). The defensive end had a decent first year in Miami, playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. He tallied 32 tackles, four sacks, four tackles for loss, 18 quarterback hits, and a forced fumble. Lawson was then dealt from Miami to the Houston Texans the following off-season. Then, just before the start of last season, the Texans dealt Lawson to the New York Jets. Lawson had, arguably, the worst season of his career with the Jets. He posted only one sack, 23 tackles and five quarterback hits.  

Why Lawson Could Break Out 

Since his rookie year, every season Lawson improved while in Buffalo under Sean McDermott and D-coordinator, Leslie Frazier. He had a somewhat breakout year in his final season in Buffalo. Excitement among Bills Mafia was high for the type of pass rusher Lawson could become. It felt like he was on the verge of taking that next step to becoming the type of defensive end all Bills fans were hoping for. Fast forward to this season, and Lawson is back in a defense that he’s clearly very comfortable in (stats don’t lie). Lawson will be back with his hand in the dirt, in a D-line rotation keeping him fresh, trying to pick up where he left off.  

Just like back in the 2018-2019 season, he’s in a contract year. This time though, he will be playing amongst the most talented D-line he’s ever been a part of. The Bills added future hall of famer, Von Miller, and they have Ed Oliver finally developing into the D-tackle and playmaker, he was supposed to be. They also have the very physically gifted and super high potential D-end, Gregory Rousseau. Not to mention, the depth and added talent at D-tackle, headlined by Lawson’s good friend and former Bills’ breakout player, Jordan Phillips. If he earns himself a good amount of snaps in the rotation, do not be surprised if Shaq Lawson has a very nice year for the big-dreaming Buffalo Bills.  

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