The Buffalo Bills have cut veteran linebacker Manny Lawson after a series of offseason shuffles at the outside linebacker position. Linebackers Randell Johnson and Kroy Biermann were also among those who were cut from the team.
The Bills have released 21 players in all, including fullback Jerome Felton. With Felton gone, the fullback position will now be given to Glenn Gronkowksi – the younger brother of Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.
Gronkowski, whose nickname is “Goose,” is a native of Buffalo and the youngest of the Gronkowski brothers. His older brother Gordie posted a photo of himself and Glenn on Instagram congratulating the latter.
Felton acknowledged his release through his Twitter account on Friday.
Thanks to everybody in and around the bills organization!! I enjoyed playing for the #BillsMafia far from finished 😉
— jerome felton (@jfelton45) September 2, 2016
The 32-year-old Lawson was expected to start alongside Jerry Hughes in the Bills 3-4 defense until Shaq Lawson, their first-round draft pick, is cleared to return from their physically-unable-to-perform list after undergoing successful shoulder surgery. The earliest that Lawson is expected to be back is in week 7.
Without Manny Lawson, the Bills will now start NFL journeyman Lorenzo Alexander at outside linebacker. Bills head coach Rex Ryan declined to provide any specifics regarding the cutting of Lawson, but he instead praised Alexander, saying that he had “earned the right to be a starter.”
“At no point did I think that he [Alexander] would be a starter for us, but he earned the right,” Ryan said.
Alexander has played 10 seasons in the NFL and has had stints with Washington, Arizona and Oakland. He signed with the Bills in April of this year. He has a career total of nine sacks while starting only 16 of 127 career games. The Bills linebacker position has been in a state of flux ever since All Pro linebacker Mario Williams was cut from the team in March. However, they are hoping that Shaq Lawson will help fill in the void left by Williams, but he will be missing the first six weeks of his rookie season as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
With Shaq Lawson unable to play during the first weeks of the 2016-2017 NFL season, Manny Lawson was tagged as his replacement, but his release came as a surprise to almost everyone and has only added more to the setbacks that he has been experiencing as of late. He was sidelined during training camp when he slightly tore his pectoral muscle, and he wasn’t cleared to practice until three weeks ago. To make matters worse, he is currently being investigated by the NFL because he might have violated the league’s wellness policy.
Lawson says that he has done nothing wrong and the NFL has not revealed what it is that they are investigating. However, the veteran linebacker did acknowledge that he was charged in February 2014 for misdemeanor disorderly conduct/domestic violence. He denied that there was any physical violence that stemmed from the incident and the charges against him were later dropped after he completed a diversion program.
When asked about Lawson’s release, Bills GM Doug Whaley responded by saying that they always do what they think is best for the team. Alexander was also shocked by his teammate’s release and described Lawson as a team leader, but he was also very pleased with the trust that his coach has placed upon him.
“They get comfortable allowing me to start. Now it’s my job to continue to get better, not feel complacent or feel like I’ve arrived”, Alexander said.
In Ryan’s first season as head coach of the Bills, the past rush became the team’s biggest concern. They only managed to get a total of 21 sacks, which is a franchise low for a 16-game season, and comes a year after they had recorded a league leading 54.
The Bills now have a 54-player roster that includes defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who will be missing the first four games of the season to serve a suspension after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Buffalo will have their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11.
[Photo by Duane Burleson/AP Images]