The Green Bay Packers may finally be getting serious about upgrading their outside linebacker position opposite Clay Matthews.
Days after inquiring about released linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, the Packers are now engaging in preliminary talks with free-agent pass rusher Manny Lawson. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the Packers' interest in the 27-year-old through a league source.
The Green Bay Packers have interest in free agent linebacker Manny Lawson, according to a league source. The two sides have been in discussions.
With a week gone in free agency and the market slowly cooling, it makes sense that Packers GM Ted Thompson would start to gauge the interest of a player like Lawson. Players at this point in free agency can typically found at bargain prices.
A visit for Lawson in Green Bay has yet to be scheduled.
While not an elite pass-rusher by any means, Lawson has proven to be a stout run-defender and skilled coverage linebacker. On just under 500 defensive snaps last season with the Cincinnati Bengals, he graded out as the No. 14 overall 4-3 linebacker against the run and allowed just a 74.7 passer rating on passes thrown his way.
Yet for a man his size (6-5, 240 lbs.) and athletically gifted (sub 4.45 40-yard dash, 39" vertical), getting to the quarterback has been a challenge. In six NFL seasons, Lawson has just 16 career sacks and a ceiling season of 6.5 in 2009. He has just four total sacks over the last two years as a member of both the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals.
Given Lawson's pass-rushing difficulties, it remains very likely that, even if Lawson is signed, Thompson would still have to bring in a situational rusher to platoon on obvious passing situations.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are also rumored to be interested in Lawson, so there remains a good chance that the price exceeds what Thompson ultimately wants to pay.
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