Lawson, 23, was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft and immediately contributed upon entering the NFL. While Cincinnati limited his playtime given his collegiate injury history (Lawson saw only 41% of the Bengals’ defensive snaps a year ago), he still managed to post 8.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hits, the latter of which tied him for 19th league-wide. This season, Lawson had posted only one sack, but still was ranked as a top-15 edge rusher, per Pro Football Focus.
Despite a bevy of talent up front, the Bengals entered Sunday’s contest ranked just 19th in adjusted sack rate, and they’ll now have to move on without Lawson in tow. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are Cincinnati’s starters at defensive end, while Sam Hubbard and Jordan Willis will continue to get rotational snaps.
The Bengals don’t currently have a defensive end on their roster, so they could conceivably look to the free agent market for reinforcements, although — unsurprisingly — there aren’t a ton of quality options freely available. A trade could also be possible, although Cincinnati would have to work out a deal before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.