Free Agent Snapshot: Manny Lawson
|05.11.11 at 11:59 pm ET|
Despite the labor uncertainty, WEEI.com will present a list of 10 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency (under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement) this offseason. For the rest of the players we have profiled as part of this feature, click here.
Position: Outside linebacker
Age: 26 (will turn 27 on July 3)
If the free agency rules of 2010 carry over to 2011, Lawson would be a restricted free agent, which would make it pretty hard to land him. But if there are new rules in effect with a new CBA, Lawson could be one of the more attractive free agents on the market, particularly to the Patriots. He’s a smart, heady player who has distinguished himself as one of the better young outside linebackers in the league.
Lawson’s sack numbers won’t blow you away ‘ he led the 49ers with 6.5 in 2009, and had just 2.5 last year. But from the midway point of the 2009 season through last year, he was used primarily on first and second downs, which caused a dip in his totals. In addition, he’s known as a solid presence against the run. For more evidence, check out this breakdown from the fine folks at Pro Football Focus. Regardless of what you think of their opinion of Tom Brady (and we have heard from many of you on that topic), the PFF guys present a very compelling argument that Lawson is one of the most productive pass rushers in the league.
In a recent ESPN article, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. weighed in on Lawson, and added a very interesting side note: ‘Every time I bring his name up, San Francisco fans are like, ‘He is a bust, he is not good.’ But the rest of the league wants him. The best might be ahead of him. He is long, fluid. If he went to New England, he might all of a sudden be going to Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl. Not that the San Francisco defense is bad, but you might be careful what you wish for with him leaving town. I don’t think he has been a bust.’
Regardless of the rules, San Francisco sounds ready to move on from Lawson, if not this year, than in the not-too-distant future. They took Aldon Smith ‘ who plays the same position as Lawson ‘ with the seventh overall pick in the draft. Which could mean that if he’s not available as a free agent, the 49ers might entertain the possibility of a trade sooner rather than later.
Why it might not work: As an unrestricted free agent, it would be a long shot. The asking price for Lawson would be too steep. And even if he is available, the contract would come at a hefty price ‘ Lawson’s stock is on the rise seemingly everywhere outside of San Francisco. (The only red flag on that front came last year when he skipped OTA’s, reportedly because he was unhappy with his deal.) But at least on paper, the combination of Lawson and the Patriots appears to make a lot of sense.