Shaq Lawson

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Gesicki, Lawson

Jake Bailey signed an extension with the Patriots earlier this month, and we’re now getting details on the punter’s new deal. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter), Bailey earned a four-year pact worth $13.125MM, with $6.275MM of that deal fully guaranteed.

Bailey got a raise on his 2022 salary, jumping from $3.986MM to $4.5MM. The move lowered his cap number, however, reducing it from $4.058MM to $2.025MM. Next year, Bailey’s cap number will increase to $3.415MM before going to $3.79MM in both 2024 and 2025.

“I’m just so happy and blessed I get a few more years here,” Bailey said last week (via the team’s website). “I was just kind of on the phone with my agent and I was like, ‘Alright, that’s it. We’re good with that,’ and it wasn’t like a crazy big moment. But it was fine and a huge milestone in my life and just thankful God put me in this position.”

The 2019 fifth-round pick out of Stanford has spent his entire career in New England, including a 2020 campaign where he earned first-team All-Pro honors.

More notes out of the AFC East…

  • While you should never put too much stock into preseason depth charts, Volin points out on Twitter that the Patriots‘ initial depth chart shows that the team is committing to Trent Brown at left tackle and Isaiah Wynn at right tackle. The two offensive lineman are swapping positions following a 2021 campaign that mostly saw Wynn at LT and Brown at RT.
  • Mike Gesicki leads the Dolphins in receptions since the beginning of the 2019 campaign, but the tight end may find himself as a secondary target for Tua Tagovailoa in 2022. As Adam H. Beasley of ProFootballNetwork.com points out, Gesicki will likely be fourth in line for targets behind wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Cedrick Wilson. As new head coach Mike McDaniel noted, the offense won’t try to force the ball to the tight end, but there will surely be situations where the team is counting on Gesicki to contribute. “It’s something that we’ve talked to the tight ends about at length — it comes in waves,” McDaniel told Beasley. “There have been practices where he’s got seven or eight … he had more targets maybe Practice 7 — it was 7 or 8 — than Tyreek had. It’s just one of those things that you try in the game of football, especially when you are a pass receiver at any position, to really focus on what you can control. You can’t control the defenses. You can’t control the progression. You can’t control the pass rush.”
  • Veteran defensive end Shaq Lawson is back in Buffalo after re-joining the organization this offseason. Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic expects Lawson to ultimately make the Bills 53-man roster, but he’s fallen behind the likes of A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham on the depth chart and will likely serve as the team’s fifth defensive end. The 28-year-old started seven games for the Jets in 2021, collecting 23 tackles and one sack.
  • If Tre’Davious White isn’t ready for the start of the regular season, then there’s a good chance the Bills will be starting a rookie cornerback opposite Dane Jackson. As Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, first-round rookie Kaiir Elam would be a natural choice, but he’s struggled during training camp. As a result, sixth-round rookie Christian Benford could find himself in the starting lineup come Week 1.

Bills To Sign Shaq Lawson

Shaq Lawson is back in Buffalo. On Thursday, the edge rusher agreed to a one-year deal with the Bills (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). 

[RELATED: Bills To Sign V. Miller]

Lawson, 27, was a first rounder of the Bills back in 2016. He racked up 16.5 sacks during his four-year stay in Buffalo, which wasn’t enough for the team to pick up his fifth-year option. He stayed in the division when he signed with the Dolphins in 2020 on a three-year, $30MM deal. His production was essentially on par with his days in Buffalo, though, and he found himself being traded to the Texans one year later.

Lawson never played in Houston, however, being moved once again later that offseason, this time to the Jets. In New York, he managed just one sack and was let go before the end of the campaign. Over his six years in the NFL, he has established himself as a capable rotational pass rusher, and a return to Buffalo could allow him to get back to his old form.

The Bills, meanwhile, get to bolster their pass rush despite a limited budget. Much of their cap room has been allocated towards Von Miller, who will team with Lawson up front.

Mutual Interest Between Bills, Shaq Lawson For Return

The Bills may soon be welcoming back a familiar face. There is “mutual interest” in a return to Buffalo between the team and edge rusher Shaq Lawson according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Bills Release LB A.J. Klein]

Lawson, 27, was a first rounder of the Bills in 2016. He racked up 16.5 sacks during his four-year stay in Buffalo, which wasn’t enough for the team to pick up his fifth-year option. He stayed in the division when he signed with the Dolphins in 2020 on a three-year, $30MM deal. His production was essentially on par with his days in Buffalo, though, and he found himself being traded to the Texans one year later.

Lawson never played in Houston, however, being moved once again later that offseason, this time to the Jets. In New York, he managed just one sack and was let go before the end of the campaign. Over his six years in the NFL, he has established himself as a capable rotational pass rusher, and a reunion in Buffalo could return him to his most productive form.

Fowler notes that “nothing is imminent” as of now, which is understandable given that the Bills are currently projected to be over the cap by roughly $2MM. Still, the team could likely find room to fit in the veteran without much issue. If they do, he would add an experienced presence to one of the AFC’s best rosters.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/8/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Jets Cut DE Shaq Lawson

Added as an 11th-hour replacement for the injured Carl Lawson, Shaq Lawson will not finish the season with the Jets. The Jets are cutting ties with the veteran defensive end.

While Shaq Lawson has not been especially productive this season, he does have extensive experience as a key pass-rushing weapon. Because Lawson is being jettisoned after the trade deadline, he will head to waivers. Should Lawson be claimed, he will not be eligible to play in the playoffs. If no team claims him, however, the sixth-year pass rusher could still play for another team in the postseason as a free agent signing.

The Jets will save $9MM in cap space because of this move. That can be rolled over to their 2022 budget. Gang Green is now projected to possess more than $55MM in 2022 cap space, though many moves will take place between now and when free agency opens in March.

A former Bills and Dolphins starter, Lawson was traded twice this year. The Texans acquired him from the Dolphins, and the rebuilding team sent the veteran edge defender to the Jets late this summer. The former first-round pick has just one sack in 14 games this season. Saturday’s transaction will give Lawson a chance to be with four teams over the past year.

The former Clemson standout registered 6.5 sacks in his 2019 contract year with the Bills, catching the attention of the Dolphins in free agency. Miami signed Lawson to a three-year, $30MM deal in March 2020. The Texans reworked that contract last year. Lawson is signed through 2022; that deal carries an $8.9MM base salary next season.

Texans To Trade Shaq Lawson To Jets

On Sunday, the Texans agreed to trade edge rusher Shaq Lawson to the Jets (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). In exchange, New York will send a sixth-round draft pick to Houston. 

Lawson came to Houston earlier this year in the deal that sent inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney to Miami. He turned in a solid, if unspectacular, 2020 campaign with the Dolphins. Previous to that, Lawson recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks for the Bills in 2019. For his career, Sack-a-Shaq has 20.5 sacks across five pro seasons.

The Jets will now take on Lawson and the rest of his contract. That means a paltry $1.4M in 2021 plus club control in 2022 with no guaranteed money. So, if Lawson is a bust, the Jets can drop him without penalty. And, if things work out, they can keep him for ’22 for a $8.9MM salary. It’s a savvy move for Joe Douglas & Co. — they gave up very little to fortify their defensive line in the wake of Carl Lawson‘s season-ending Achilles tear.

Lawson might not be a world-beater, but he was probably their best option after losing C. Lawson and Vinny Curry in a short span.

It’s always easy to play the fictional game of, ‘Let’s go get somebody,’ but the reality is [it’s] few and far between in terms of what’s available,” head coach Robert Saleh said recently. “Now, obviously, Joe and his staff are working relentlessly, always trying to look at the roster and always communicating.”

Lawson has a little over two weeks to cram on his new team’s playbook. The Jets kick off the 2021 season on Sept. 12 when they face the Panthers in Carolina.

Texans Shopping Shaq Lawson, Lonnie Johnson

Texans pass rusher Shaq Lawson and defensive back Lonnie Johnson are being “heavily discussed in league circles as trade candidates,” according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). Both players have started in the past, but neither is currently projected to be first-string for the Texans.

Lawson came to Houston earlier this year in the deal that sent inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney to Miami. He turned in a solid, if unspectacular, 2020 campaign with the Dolphins. Previous to that, Lawson recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks for the Bills in 2019. For his career, Sack-a-Shaq has 20.5 sacks across five pro seasons. For now, the Texans have him under club control for another two seasons, thanks to the three-year, $30MM he inked with the ‘Fins last spring.

The Texans selected Johnson, a Kentucky product, in the second round of the 2019 draft. He’s got all the physical tools one could want in a corner or a safety. At 6-2, 213 pounds, he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the Combine. He’s shown flashes of potential with the Texans over the last two years, but he hasn’t quite put it all together yet as a pro.

Texans Rework Shaq Lawson’s Deal

The Texans have converted $7MM of Shaq Lawson‘s contract into a signing bonus, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The move will carve out $5.2MM in breathing room for Houston while adding two voidable years to the edge rusher’s deal.

[RELATED: Dolphins Trade Shaq Lawson To Texans For Benardrick McKinney]

Lawson arrived a couple weeks back in the trade that sent inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney to Miami. He was the second player from Miami’s 2020 front-seven spending spree to be jettisoned in a matter of days, following the release of Kyle Van Noy.

Lawson turned in a solid, if unspectacular, 2020 campaign with the Dolphins. Previous to that, Lawson recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks for the Bills in 2019. For all intents and purposes, Lawson’s is set to continue on the three-year, $30MM he inked with the ‘Fins last spring. But, thanks to those voidable years, the Texans can kick the can down the road a bit.

For his career, Sack-a-Shaq has 20.5 sacks across five pro seasons. Barring any further changes to his deal, he’s due to make $8.9MM in 2022.

Dolphins Trade Shaq Lawson To Texans For Benardrick McKinney

The Dolphins and Texans are in agreement on a trade that will send inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney to Miami in exchange for outside linebacker Shaq Lawson, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com was first to report (via Twitter). Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com reports that the Dolphins will send their 2021 sixth-round pick to Houston and will get the Texans’ 2021 seventh-rounder in return (Twitter link).

Lawson is the second player from Miami’s 2020 front-seven spending spree to be jettisoned over the last few days. After the ‘Fins failed to find a trade partner for Kyle Van Noy, they cut him loose after just one season in South Beach. Now, Lawson will try to build on a solid, if unspectacular, 2020 season with his third pro team.

The Texans, who parted ways with franchise icon J.J. Watt this offseason, were in desperate need of pass rush help, and Lawson graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 28th-best edge defender out of 109 qualified players (incidentally, new teammate Whitney Mercilus was at the very bottom of that list). Lawson’s four sacks and 25 QB pressures won’t make headlines, but he will be a welcome addition to the club’s pass rushing corps just the same. He will likely shift back to defensive end in new DC Lovie Smith‘s scheme.

Miami, meanwhile, adds a starting-caliber ILB to line up next to Jerome Baker. McKinney played in just four games in 2020 due to a shoulder injury, but he had been pretty durable up to that point. A full-time starter since he entered the league as a second-round pick in 2015, the Mississippi State product averaged 107.5 tackles per season from 2016-2019 and earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2018. But the Texans recently brought in Christian Kirksey on a one-year pact, and they had given McKinney permission to seek a trade, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

Per Wolfe, the Dolphins have been eyeing McKinney for awhile, and he gives them a worthy replacement for Van Noy. The team is now expected to pursue pass rush help in free agency to complement Emmanuel Ogbah and Andrew Van Ginkel (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com).

From a salary cap standpoint, the trade is mostly a wash for both clubs. Lawson is due an $8.4MM salary in 2021 and $8.9MM in 2022, while McKinney is under club control through 2023 with salaries of $7MM, $8.75MM, and $9.5MM coming his way over the next three seasons. The Dolphins will have to absorb $2.7MM in dead money as a result of the deal, but all of McKinney’s guarantees have been paid out, so it will be easy for Miami to move on from him prior to the expiration of his current contract if he underperforms.

Now that these two teams have one notable trade in the books, one wonders if another deal involving a quarterback or two could be in the offing.

AFC East Notes: Lawson, Dolphins, Jets

Despite Shaq Lawson being in trade rumors for much of his tenure with the Bills, the current regime was interested in bringing him back. However, it does not appear Buffalo’s interest in retaining the former Doug Whaley first-round pick was extensive. The Bills were open to re-signing Lawson, but Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic notes such interest was contingent on Lawson returning at a certain price (subscription required). But once the Dolphins guaranteed two years of Lawson’s $10MM-AAV contract, the Bills let him walk. Buffalo signed both Mario Addison and versatile D-lineman Quinton Jefferson to cover for Lawson’s exit.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Shifting to Lawson’s new team, the Dolphins received good news on the health statuses of two of their recent free agent additions. Emmanuel Ogbah said he has been cleared for football work for around a month but has yet to partake in workouts because of COVID-19 concerns, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com tweets. Ogbah will receive a Chiefs Super Bowl ring, but the defensive end’s contributions ended midseason because of a torn pectoral muscle.
  • Jordan Howard also will be full-go when the Dolphins reconvene, Wolfe adds. After a strong start to his Eagles season, Howard suffered a shoulder injury that derailed his momentum. He played in just one game after Week 9 but did not log any carries. Howard was inactive for Philadelphia’s playoff game. The Dolphins gave him a two-year, $9.75MM contract.
  • Sam Martin ended up signing with the Broncos, but the Jets were interested in adding the former Lions punter, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. The Broncos gave Martin a three-year, $7.05MM deal; Mehta adds the Jets were not budgeting that much for their punter position. Martin’s $2.35MM salary ranks 15th among punters. The Jets have opted not to re-sign incumbent punter Lac Edwards, their four-year punter, and Mehta adds they have remained in contact with former Dolphins and Bills punter Matt Darr. Ian Berryman, a 2019 Steelers UDFA, is the only punter on the Jets’ roster. The team remains interested in another addition here. Bringing considerable punter news to the table, Mehta adds that the Jets are doing their homework on Texas A&M’s Braden Mann — the 2018 Ray Guy award winner.
  • While things could certainly change in the coming months, the Patriots appear set to make Jarrett Stidham the favorite to be their first non-Tom Brady Week 1 starter since 2001.