5 Buffalo Bills with plenty to gain in training camp
By Avery Duncan
1. Shaq Lawson – DE
When the Bills declined Shaq Lawson‘s fifth-year option, it indicated that, along with many speculators and fans, they aren’t too pleased with the way his career has panned out in Buffalo. A first-round pick in 2016, Lawson has struggled with weight issues, injuries, and a general lack of consistent productiveness (eight career sacks).
No training camp is more vital for Lawson’s career arch than the 2019 one. With Trent Murphy now benefiting from a healthy off-season, Lawson isn’t going to have a starting job given to him. In fact, Murphy is pegged as the starter for most and has flashed immense potential during the Bills’ limited off-season practices together.
Lawson can compete for the starting job, but like all on this list, an uptick in snap shares isn’t going to be given. As he currently stands, he’s the tertiary pass-rusher on a 4-3 defense with a stalwart in Jerry Hughes and the previously productive Murphy in front. He’s immensely talented — and perhaps the most gifted pass-rusher on the Bills — so he can earn that spot, but that’s not all he has to gain.
Now entering a contract year, Lawson’s first shot at getting an extension in Buffalo will come in the training camp. Like everyone else on planet earth, money is his to gain, as well as a starting job (not like everyone else, to my dismay). Luckily, Lawson appears to be motivated by his lack of a fifth-year in his rookie contract, as he told Mathew Fairbairn at The Athletic;
"This year right now, it’s do or die. I have to go crazy. — You try to approach every year like a contract year, but for real, for real this year is a contract year. Shoot, I’m trying to get paid. I need a season, a great season to get there."
Lawson couldn’t have said it better; he’s got to go crazy to get paid. That alone is something to gain; but for the sake of a competitive Bills team, he should be eyeing down a starting job. If he does that by winning over a healthy Murphy, Lawson will get paid accordingly by either the Bills or another pass-rush needy squad.