Orchard Park, NY – The Buffalo Bills today announced that the team has signed unrestricted free agent LB Manny Lawson. In accordance with team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Lawson spent the previous two years with the Cincinnati Bengals after entering the NFL as a first-round (22nd overall) draft selection of San Francisco in 2006.
The 6-5, 240-pound North Carolina State product has started 81-of-96 career games and recorded 331 tackles (248 solo), 18.0 sacks, 19 pass break-ups, two interceptions, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
Below is the transcript from his meeting with the media on Wednesday
Q: Your thoughts on joining the Buffalo Bills and the reason for the decision?
A: Thank you for one. And it is kind of hard to not want to be a part of this organization. For one, the staff that is here. Having Coach Marrone being here. Our DC (Mike Pettine), our head coach and then their history. (Pettine) has been a part of really good defenses. His track record shows it. Been in the top five the past four years, I think is what it is. I get to also have a couple guys that I know and have played with. One being Mario Williams. We played in school (North Carolina State) together. It will be good to jaw back and forth with him. Then other guys around the league that I have gotten to get to know playing against them and playing with them. I am just excited to be here.
Q: How big of a factor was DE Mario Williams being here for you and how excited are you to reunite with him?
A: As a factor and him—I guess if you want to say he was trying to peer pressure me (then) no. We have not talked yet. We will definitely chat it up in a few I am pretty sure. It is great to have somebody that you actually knew before the NFL came into the picture. We had fun together in college. We competed in college. We jaw back and forth. It is good to know that is still there. You know that we do get a chance to, I guess you could say, rekindle our college lives.
Q: If you look at this team’s needs linebacker was a big priority. That must have been a lure as well.
A: Yes sir. Being that I was sought after and I was really one of the choices they wanted to go to that spoke volumes of what I meant to them. Therefore that as a person just really warms the heart. If somebody comes at you and tells you, ‘You know what, we want you. This is here. We need you here.’ Just to hear those words. Indescribable.
Q: Where do you see yourself fitting in and have you had a chance to talk with DC Mike Pettine?
A: That I have. I have had a chance. We got to talk a little bit of football. And as far as where I see myself fitting in, I see myself fitting in where I always see myself fitting in: making plays. I have played in several different types of defensive schemes. I have played in several special teams schemes, so whatever and wherever they need to put me at is where I will be.
Q: Would you like to rush the passer more so than you did the past couple years in Cincinnati?
A: Definitely. Definitely would like to rush the passer more. In talking to Mike, with the packages that he has for us I will get the chance to.
Q: How big of a factor was Pettine’s hybrid defensive scheme to you coming here?
A: I look at myself as also being a hybrid. I am a defensive end in a linebacker’s body or mentality as you want to put it. I look as far as though I can drop into coverage, I can rush the passer and I think I fit well in this scheme. I can bluff those same things, too. As far as creating mismatches for offense over whether this guy is going to do what he is lined up to do right now based on previous film. I think I fit well in this scheme.
Q: After playing the past couple years on one-year contracts, how important was it for you to find a place you could call home for more of the long term?
A: Definitely much more so being that is also getting later in the years. I still look at myself as being young, but if you talk to a couple of the young guys I am now an old head as they put it. It is really a place to settle down. Not having to move so much, worrying about what trucking company I want to use and then where to stay. Just actually to settle down.
Q: Do you have any ties to the defensive coaching staff?
A: Nobody at all. I have heard talk. I have probably crossed paths in playing against one another, but as far as playing together, no.
Q: Do you think there is any carryover from the schemes Mike Singletary ran in San Francisco with you and what Coach Pettine will run here?
A: Being that they are from the same era, I think just the history enough itself is exciting for me to come back. Part of that era when the coaches split up, every coach had a good defense. I have just been fortunate enough to be a part of the Singletary, the Coach Lewis and now the Coach Pettine era.
Q: Did you have any preconceptions coming to Buffalo knowing that this team has not made the playoffs in 13 years and seems to be struggling for identity?
A: No. That is a very interesting point that you just pointed out. That is new knowledge to me. I guess it is good to know. I look at myself as I am coming here to change things. Hopefully we can continue the success that is happening right now.
Q: Did you have any other visits planned? You flew in last night, right?
Q: Were you planning on going anywhere else?
A: As far as planning on going anywhere else, I am going to say no. Again, this team really wanted me here. And that was just enough for me to come here.
Q: Just to be clear—you did not know previously that the Bills had not made the playoffs for 13 years?
A: Did not know. That is new.
Q: What are your strengths and weaknesses coming in?
A: Definitely I look at myself as being an overall guy. I will work on anything and everything. As far as what I think I can do for this and as far as leadership goes, especially on the defensive side, I think having the years behind me I can bring a little bit of that. My competitiveness; I am competitive by nature. I have always been that way and that is why I am here. I’m definitely going to compete with even our guys on the offensive side. Just really my want to make plays and to get to the ball—I think I pursue the ball well. I can always use work in drop coverage and rush. I think I do those, if we had to do those on a grading scale I give myself a C+.
Q: Just talk about the people that are on this defense and the style of players there are.
A: I think what the personality of this defense was and what I bring to it, I think that our personality would definitely change. I think what you will see from our defense is we are going to exceed levels and actually step our game up. I do not think that is just me coming here by myself. I think that is the coaching staff. I think that is the organization period. I think that is the guys that are on this team now that is what we want. That is what we will do.
Q: A C+, that is it?
A: C+. What is that an 80? What is it on Madden?...Whatever that scale is give me five points added to that to improve always. Nobody is perfect. I will not say I am perfect.
Q: I think you were about a 90 speed in Madden coming out of college. Where are you now?
A: Seriously? Just a 90? (Laughs) No, definitely not as young as I was then. That little grasshopper that can just jump off and sprint when they want to. I do have to stretch now. I would say I do not think I have lost anything. And if I did, what I lost in speed I make-up in wisdom, experience, overall reaction and instinct.