Shaq Lawson

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Gordon, Lawson

Devoting significant resources to retooling their offensive line, the Jets have not address their edge defender situation. Jordan Jenkins remains a free agent, but the team has not made a strong effort to re-sign their sack leader of the past two years, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes. As far as the bigger names out there, the Jets are still not prepared to pay up for Jadeveon Clowney and do not have Yannick Ngakoue on the front burner, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. The Jets have explored an Ngakoue tag-and-trade move but are not planning to pursue the disgruntled Jaguars defensive end, Cimini adds. Gang Green will need to make multiple moves outside, however. Tarell Basham resides as the top edge rusher on the Jets roster; he registered two sacks last season.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Bills may or may not have expressed interest in Melvin Gordon. While 9News’ Mike Klis tweets that the Bills submitted an offer better than the Broncos’ two-year, $16MM proposal, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicated Buffalo did not do so (Twitter link). Regardless of whether an offer emerged, Schefter adds (via Twitter) Gordon’s agent did contact the Bills about a deal. The Bills are all set to go with Devin Singletary again; Frank Gore is a free agent.
  • George Fant‘s three-year, $27.3MM Jets deal essentially doubles as a one-year, $9.25MM investment, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. If the veteran tackle is still on the Jets’ roster by Day 5 of the 2021 league year, $4.45MM of his $8MM 2021 base salary becomes guaranteed, per OverTheCap. This still represents a nice deal for Fant, whom Mehta adds was only targeting $6MM per year before the Jets swooped in with their offer.
  • Shaq Lawson signed a three-year, $30MM Dolphins deal. While many teams prefer to backload free agency contracts, the Dolphins set Lawson’s up so he has a $10.3MM 2020 cap number, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Miami did this in order to lessen Lawson’s 2021 and ’22 cap hits, which OverTheCap lists as $9.3MM (’21) and $10.3MM (’22) figures.

Contract Details: Lawson, Trufant, Shelton, Witten,

Kyler Fackrell (Giants), One year, $4.6MM, $3.5MM guaranteed, base salary 2020: $2.6MM, $2MM roster bonus, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.

Antonio Hamilton (Chiefs), One year, $1.047MM, $887.5k guaranteed, $137.5k signing bonus; salary 2020: $910k ($750k guaranteed), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Shaq Lawson (Dolphins), Three years, $30MM, $21MM guaranteed, $4MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $6.4MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $7.9MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $8.9MM; $2.5MM fully guaranteed roster bonus in 2020, $100k workout bonus in 2020-2021, potential $2MM in annual incentives, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

John Miller (Panthers), One year, $4MM, $2MM guaranteed, $2MM signing bonus; salary 2020: $1.79MM; $160k in per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Danny Shelton (Lions), Two years, $8MM, $4MM guaranteed, $2.5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $1.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $4MM, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.

Desmond Trufant (Lions), Two years, $20MM, $14MM guaranteed, $5MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $4.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $9.5MM ($4.5MM guaranteed for injury at signing); $500k in annual per-game roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jihad Ward (Ravens), One year, $1.047MM, $637.5k guaranteed, $137.5k signing bonus; salary 2020: $910,000 ($500,000 guaranteed), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jaylen Watkins (Texans), Two years, $3MM, $300k guaranteed, $300k guaranteed; salaries 2020: $1.1MM, 2021: $1.4MM; 200k first-game roster bonus in 2020, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Jason Witten (Raiders), One year, $4MM, $3.5MM guaranteed; salary 2020: $3.5MM (fully guaranteed); $500k in per-game roster bonuses, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Dolphins To Sign Shaq Lawson

The Dolphins’ interest in Shaq Lawson looks like it will lead to a deal early on Day 1 of the tampering period. The former first-round edge defender is expected to sign with the Dolphins, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

A Bills 2016 draft choice, Lawson recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks last season. He will become the fourth first-round pick currently on the Dolphins’ defensive line. It’s a three-year deal worth $30MM, Rapoport adds (via Twitter). The deal also includes $21MM fully guaranteed at signing and, through incentives, can reach as much as $36MM, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com tweets.

Miami entered Monday with $80MM-plus in cap space — most in the league — and a roster needy at most areas. The Dolphins surprised the NFL-following world by winning five games last season but are still deficient in many areas, one being in the pass-rushing department. Miami featured one player — waiver claim Taco Charlton — record more than four sacks in 2019.

Lawson loomed as a Bills trade candidate for a while, but Buffalo held onto the Clemson product. He will join Christian Wilkins, also an ex-Clemson defensive lineman, Charlton and Charles Harris as first-round picks on Miami’s D-line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Interested In Shaq Lawson

Not much has emerged about Shaq Lawson‘s market, but with many would-be free agent edge rushers being franchise-tagged, the longtime Bills defender should see interest pick up.

One of the Bills’ top rivals is in the mix for Lawson, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reporting the Dolphins are interested in the former first-round pick (Twitter link).

This year’s market has seen Shaquil Barrett, Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Bud Dupree removed from free agent consideration because of the tag. The Bills did not pick up Lawson’s fifth-year option last year, but the Clemson alum posted a career-high 6.5 sacks with 18 QB hits.

The Dolphins lead the NFL in cap space, with more than $80MM, and have needs at most spots on their roster. The team does return Taco Charlton and still has fellow 2017 first-round edge Charles Harris under contract.

AFC Notes: Marrone, Dolphins, Lawson

After the Jaguars ugly 42-20 loss to the Titans, the team fell to 4-7 and reporters asked head coach Doug Marrone if the team would be making any changes at quarterback or defensive coordinator. Marrone remained steadfast that he is not considering changes at either spot, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.

Marrone, currently in his third season as Jacksonville’s official head coach (he served as the interim at the end of 2016), is still looking to replicate the success he found in his first year at the helm. That season the Jaguars had one of the best defensive units in football that carried a team with questionable quarterback play to the AFC Championship Game. Since, the team is 9-18 and recently looks in disarray defensively. On the opposite side of the field, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew showed promise while Nick Foles was out with a broken collarbone. Foles returned last week, but has yet to lead a strong offensive performance.

Here’s some more Sunday notes from the AFC:

  • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is perfect for the Dolphins situation, according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald. Fitzpatrick has helped their offensive unit maintain an acceptable level of competence, but not to a level that could cause the team to win enough games to have their first round pick fall outside the top five in next year’s draft. Salguero also notes that head coach Brian Flores’ choices have made clear that Miami believes that Josh Rosen is not the franchise’s answer under center.
  • The Bills defense dominated the Broncos offense in Sunday’s 20-3 victory. It’s no secret that Buffalo has one of the best defensive units in football, but one player seemed to be playing with a little chip on his shoulder. According to Denver7’s Troy Renck, Bills edge rusher Shaq Lawson, who recorded two sacks on Sunday, looked for Broncos center Connor McGovern after the contest to tell him, “You will remember me now.” Apparently, McGovern said he did not who Lawson was prior to the game and the Clemson alum took note.

Bills To Decline Shaq Lawson’s Option

Shaq Lawson is on track for unrestricted free agency following the 2019 season. The Bills will not pick up the defensive end’s fifth-year option, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Lawson, a 2016 first-rounder, was a trade/cut candidate last offseason, though he ultimately remained with the club. He performed reasonably well despite the uncertainty, compiling four sacks for the second year in a row across 14 games (six starts). Lawson also set a career-high in defensive snaps, and graded out as an above-average edge defender, per Pro Football Focus, but ultimately didn’t do enough to coax the Bills into picking up his pricey option for 2020.

In the draft, the Bills added top defensive tackle prospect Ed Oliver in the first round to further bolster their front seven. Next year, they could be in the hunt for edge help.

You can keep track of all fifth-year option decisions for 2016 first round picks by going here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Undecided On Shaq Lawson’s Fifth-Year Option

The Bills remain uncertain as to whether they will exercise defensive end Shaq Lawson‘s fifth-year option for 2020, as Joe Buscaglia of WKBW tweets. GM Brandon Beane has until May 2 to make the call.

It is understandably not an easy decision for Beane to make. Lawson, a 2016 first-rounder, was a trade/cut candidate last offseason, though he ultimately remained with the club. He appeared in 14 games (six starts), and he compiled four sacks for the second consecutive season. He actually set a career-high in defensive snaps, and he graded out as an above-average edge defender, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.

So while Lawson has some value, he has not exactly lived up to his draft pedigree, and the 2020 option would tie him to a $14MM+ salary. Of course, that salary is guaranteed for injury only, but if Lawson should get hurt, the Bills may be on the hook for that hefty sum.

Buffalo added top DT prospect Ed Oliver with their 2019 first-round pick in an effort to further bolster its front seven.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.