(WKBW) — Heading into the 2019 offseason, the Buffalo Bills didn't have much in the form of their free agents to sign before the start of the new league year. But for one of the ones that they wanted to keep around, the team made sure to get it done well in advance of the deadline.
The Bills announced on Wednesday that they signed veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander to a one-year contract extension. The move extends his stay with the Bills to a total of four seasons when 2019 is all said and done.
Alexander, 35, was the team's starting strongside linebacker each of the last two seasons and developed into one of the team's leaders that head coach Sean McDermott depended on inside the locker room. All along, Alexander said that he wanted to play one more season and for that year to be in Buffalo, and the two sides struck a deal.
Alexander had 6.5 sacks for the Bills in 2018. Financial details of the new contract were not disclosed.
Joe B's Take
- As offseason decisions go, the Bills electing to re-sign linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was quite frankly a no-brainer -- regardless of cost.
Without Alexander, the Bills would be losing one of their best players on the roster and create a gaping hole at strongside linebacker on a defense that took a genuine step forward in 2018. Once the Bills started to understand what Alexander was and what he needed to play to maximize his unique skill-set, his play has rivaled any member of the roster for positive impact.
Early in 2017, the Bills tried using Alexander as an every-down linebacker and didn't utilize him much as a pass rusher. As the season went on and Alexander met with the coaching staff, they developed a program for the soon-to-be 36-year-old to give him rest during the practice week, to give him less time on the field on defense and special teams, and to use him in both a linebacker and pass rusher role.
The results were evident in the second half of the season, and then again in the 2018 campaign when Alexander was routinely making impact plays that helped shape the game. When Matt Milano went out with an injury in the final month of the season, Alexander was still a productive player even though he was taking every possible defensive snap, just showing his value even further.
Without Alexander at strongside linebacker, the Bills likely would have had to use an early draft pick and have that player learn on the job. Instead, the Bills now have the flexibility to bring in a young player at the position and have him work from the sidelines and learn from Alexander in a reserve role.
His ability on the field was vital to the re-signing, but his role within the organization off the field was just as instrumental in making him a priority for the franchise. Alexander, really since the day he walked in the door, has been a leader on the Bills roster.
He routinely helped younger players and was integral for head coach Sean McDermott in making sure the coach's message of accountability within the locker room carried over. Now that Kyle Williams is retired, the Bills had a void in who would be the veteran voice of the team, and those duties will now be for Alexander to fulfill.
The signing is a great one for a still-developing Bills team and will go a long way for McDermott and GM Brandon Beane in carrying over to 2019, and to establish the culture within the organization that they so desire.