Tonawanda News — ORCHARD PARK — It wasn’t until after linebacker Manny Lawson signed with the Buffalo Bills on Wednesday, when he learned of his new team’s 13-season playoff drought.
“I did not know,” Lawson said, shortly after signing a four-year, $12 million contract. “That’s new knowledge to me.”
Not that it matters, because it has now become Lawson’s intention to play a role in helping end the NFL’s longest active streak.
“I look at myself as coming here to change things,” he said.
Lawson’s signing addressed one of the Bills’ most pressing offseason needs at linebacker. It also marked the team’s first addition since the league’s free agency period opened a day earlier, and when Lawson arrived in Buffalo.
Lawson’s contract includes $4.6 million in guaranteed money, a person familiar with the contract said. The person revealed the length and value of Lawson’s deal on the condition of anonymity because the Bills did not release the contract’s terms.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Lawson is a seven-year veteran, who spent the past two seasons as a starter in Cincinnati. Before that, he played five seasons in San Francisco after the 49ers selected him with 22nd pick in the 2006 draft.
Lawson’s size and versatility — he can play outside linebacker and defensive end — are regarded as good fits in a defense making the switch from a three- to a four-linebacker base system under new coordinator Mike Pettine. And Lawson’s also familiar with Buffalo’s high-priced star, defensive end Mario Williams.
The two were starters on a dominating defensive line at North Carolina State.
“It’s great to have somebody that you actually knew before the NFL came into the picture,” Lawson said of Williams, who the Bills signed a year ago to a six-year, $100 million contract. “We jaw back and forth. It’s good to know that’s still there, and that we actually do get a chance to rekindle our college lives.”